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Roy Campbell PDF Print E-mail

Roy Campbell (1901 - 1957) was born in Durban, the son of Dr Samuel George Campbell. Roy Campbell co-edited (with William Plomer and Laurens van der Post) the magazine entitled Voorslag in 1926. Campbell is the author of a long poem entitled The Flaming Terrapin (1924), as well as poetry collections entitled Adamastor (1930), Flowering Reeds (1933), Mithraic Emblems (1936) and Talking Bronco (1946). He wrote long satirical poems entitled The Wayzgoose (1928) and The Georgiad (1931) on the South African way of life and intellectual climate. Campbell's autobiographical works include Broken Record (1934) and Light on a Dark Horse (1951). He lived in England and Spain before settling permanently in Portugal where he died in a car accident at the age of fifty six. Campbell was fluent in Spanish and translated poems of St John of the Cross, Baudelaire, Lorca, Paco d'Arcos and novels by Ea de Queirs.

He also wrote critical studies entitled Lorca (1952) and Wyndham Lewis which was completed in 1931 but first published posthumously in 1985. His non-fiction works on travel and social commentary include Taurine Provence (1932) and Portugal (1957). Campbell also wrote an adventure story for children entitled The Mamba's Precipice (1953).


Literary studies on Campbell include David Wright's Roy Campbell (1961), Rowland Smith's Lyric and Polemic: The Literary Personality of Roy Campbell (1973), John Povey's Roy Campbell (1977) and Peter Alexander's Roy Campbell: A Critical Biography (1982). Joseph Pearce is the author of a well received biography and literary study of Campbell entitled Bloomsbury and beyond: The friends and enemies of Roy Campbell (2001, Harper Collins), in which he affirms Campbell's merits as a poet and portrays him as having been greatly under-rated in literary circles.  In 2011, Remembering Roy Campbell: The Memoirs of his daughters Anna and Tess, edited by Judith Coullie, was published. 

Thanks to The Guardian/NPG for permission to reproduce Jane Brown's 1951 portrait of the author.


Selected Work

The Zebras from Adamastor (1930)

From the dark woods that breathe of fallen showers,
Harnessed with level rays in golden reins,
The zebras draw the dawn across the plains
Wading knee-keep among the scarlet flowers.
The sunlight, zithering their flanks with fire,
Flashes between the shadows as they pass
Barred with electric tremors through the grass
Like wind along the gold strings of a lyre.
Into the flushed air snorting rosy plumes
That smoulder round their feet in drifting fumes,
With dove-like voices call the distant fillies,
While round the herds the stallion wheels his flight,
Engine of beauty volted with delight,
To roll his mare among the trampled lilies.


1923. The flaming terrapin.  London; Jonathan Cape Publishers.
1928. The wayzgoose; a South African satire.  London:  Jonathan Cape Publishers.
1930. Adamastor.  London:  Faber and Faber.
1930. The gum trees.  London:  Faber and Faber.
1931. The Georgiad: a satirical fantasy in verse.  London:  Boriswood Limited.
1931. Choosing a mast.  London:  Faber and Faber.
1932. Taurine Provence.  London:  Desmond Harmsworth.
1932. Pomegranates.  London:  Boriswood Limited.
1933. Flowering reeds.  London:  Boriswood Limited.
1934. Broken record.  London;  Boriswood Limited.
1936. Mithraic emblems. London:  Boriswood Limited. 
1936. Flowering rifle: a poem from the battlefield of Spain.  London:  Longmans, Green and Co. Publishers.
1941. Songs of the mistral.  London:  Faber and Faber.
1946. Talking bronco.  London:  Faber and Faber.
1951. Light on a dark horse.  London:  Hollis and Carter. 

1952. Poems of Baudelaire: a translation of Les fleurs du mal.  New York:  Pantheon. 
1952.  Lorca:  An Appreciation of his Poetry.  New Haven:  Yale University Press.
1953. The mamba's precipice.  London: Frederick Muller. 
1954. Nativity.  London:  Faber and Faber.
1957. Portugal.  London:  Max Reinhardt.
1960. Poems of Roy Campbell. (Edited by Uys Krige).  Cape Town:  Maskew Miller.
1985. Wyndham Lewis.  Durban;  University of Natal Press.
1985. Collected works. (Edited by P. Alexander, M. Chapman and M. Leveson).  Johannesburg: Ad Donker Publishers.
2002. Selected Poems. (Edited by J. Pearce).  Johannesburg:  Ad Donker Publishers.
2005. Selected Poems. (Edited by M. Chapman).  Johannesburg: Ad Donker Publishers.

2011. Remembering Roy Campbell: The Memoirs of his daughters Anna and Tess. Winged Lion Press




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