‘All Cornwall Thunders at my Door: a biography of Charles Causley’ by Laurence Green

This is the only complete biography of Charles Causley even now, nearly 20 years after his death and nearly 10 years after this biography of him was published. As he is one of the greatest Cornish poets, and the best Poet Laureate we never had, the paucity of material seems a shame. Especially given the existence of the Charles Causley Trust. Even the Wikipedia entry for Causley dwells at more length on the poetry competition the CCT runs annually than it does on the man himself.

But this is the biography that we have. And there is much interesting material in it. For instance, I did not know before reading it that Causley wrote many plays throughout his creative life.

Unfortunately the biography bears the marks of the author having been turned loose in a fresh patch of Causley material and not really sieving it properly. There is no focus, no extrapolation: it is all simply thrown at the reader, sometimes repetitively, especially his war service, for which obviously a lot of rather anodyne letters survive.

The book is a modest 200 pages. We are over half way through it by the time Causley is demobbed from the Royal Navy after the war. At this point he has been tinkering with poetry, but is rather far from being ‘a poet’. So those ensuing 57 years of creativity are stuffed into less than 100 pages. And quite a lot of that is taken up with the author telling us about his atmospheric walks in Causley’s landscape.

There are two or three determined assertions of the never-married Causley’s heterosexuality based on scant evidence. (Patrick Gale has a different take, and I’m with Gale on this.)

And there is very little poetry. Lines, and occasionally stanzas, glossed but nevertheless taken out of context, are all we get. In one case a meagre quotation is given as evidence for Causley having suicidal thoughts when he was living in Peterborough doing his teacher training.

However, as I say, this is the biography we have. It is short, which is often a blessing with biographies, which can run on rather (the Bullock biography of Hitler makes a good doorstop: as a biography it is far from alone in this) and the second half – when Causley begins to write seriously – is often fascinating. The author obviously knew Causley well (although I’m not sure he ever intrudes himself enough into the book to tell the reader how that has come about). Perhaps he knew Causley too well to ask the hard questions.

There is, however, plenty of room for another biography of Causley: one that deals more with the poetry, and shows the reader more of how that came to be.


Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed. BTW - it says the link to Facebook is broken. I dispute that. Click it and see, why not?

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