Biographical / Historical
Kathleen Raine was born in London: her father was a schoolmaster and the family strict Methodists. She was sent to stay with an aunt in rural Northumberland for the duration of World War I, an idyllic childhood period she later recalled in ‘Farewell Happy Fields’ (1973). She was educated at Ilford County High School and came to Girton as an Exhibitioner to read Natural Sciences then Moral Sciences 1926-29. While she was at Cambridge she began writing poetry and also made long-term friendships with other aspiring writers. She had a brief marriage to a fellow student, Hugh Sykes Davies, then to fellow poet and sociologist Charles Madge with whom she had 2 children, a son and a daughter (the daughter came to Girton 1952). The marriage broke up in 1940. Her first volume of poetry ‘Stone and Flower’ illustrated with drawings by Barbara Hepworth was published in 1943. There followed a prolific output of work which continued throughout her life. In addition to poetry, she wrote scholarly and critical work particularly on Blake and Yeats. In 1955, towards the end of her relationship with the naturalist and writer Gavin Maxwell (with whom she shared a love of Northumberland and a fascination in the occult), she returned to Girton as Research Fellow working on Blake (work which led to the Mellon lectures ‘Blake and Tradition’) and also lectured in English for College 1955-61. In 1981 she co-founded Temenos Review of the Arts of the Imagination with the ambition to affirm ‘at the highest level of scholarship and talent, and in terms of the contemporary situation, of the Sacred’ and soon became sole editor with a devoted international following. Nine years later she established the Temenos Academy, a teaching organisation which received the patronage of the Prince of Wales. She received numerous awards and honours including honorary doctorates from Leicester, Durham and Caen Universities, the Queens Gold Medal for Poetry (1992) and the CBE (2000). She taught and lectured in the USA, India and Ireland, published 4 volumes of autobiography, and her work has been translated into French, Spanish, Japanese and Hindi.