Professor, Sir Andrew Motion

Andrew Motion

Areas of Interest

Education, Literature

Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of Letters, 2001


Sir Andrew Motion was born in 1952. He read English at University College, Oxford and subsequently spent two years writing about the poetry of Edward Thomas for an M. Litt. From 1976 to 1980 he taught English at the University of Hull; from 1980 to 1982 he edited the Poetry Review and from 1982 to 1989 he was Editorial Director and Poetry Editor at Chatto & Windus. Sir Andrew has been Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London since 2003. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and lives in London.

Sir Andrew was Poet Laureate from 1999-2009. His latest collection of poems is The Cinder Path (Faber) and Ways of Life: Places, Painters and Poets (Faber) is his latest collection of essays. He is Chairman of the Museums, Libraries & Archives Council, co-founder and co-director of the Poetry Archive, and was knighted for services to literature in 2009.

In 2001 Professor Sir Andrew Motion was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters.

(Photograph: Adrian Mealing)


"The Senate of Anglia Polytechnic University has great pleasure in recommending the award of an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree to Professor Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate, biographer, critic, novelist and most distinguished Professor of Creative Writing.

Professor Motion was educated at Radley College in Abingdon, before going on to read English at University College, Oxford. He then spent two years writing about the poetry of Edward Thomas, for which he gained his Master of Literature degree. From 1976 to 1980, he taught English at Hull University, before becoming Editor of the Poetry Review, and was then appointed as both Editorial Director and Poetry Editor at Chatto & Windus. He has been Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia since 1995 and Poet Laureate since 1999.

He is truly a prolific writer of books and has written along four different strands of literature: poetry, of course, then criticism, biography and the novel. Of his poetry books, his first was Pleasure Steamers, published in 1978 (and having a Third Edition in 1983). This was followed by Independence in 1981, then an anthology in the form of The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry in 1982, Secret Narratives in 1983, Dangerous Play in 1984 (for which he was awarded the John Llewelyn Rhys Memorial Prize) and Natural Causes in 1987 (for which he received the Dylan Thomas Award). During the last ten years, a further five of his books of poetry have been published by Faber and Faber. They are: Love in a Life in 1991 and three years later The Price of Everything in 1994. These were followed by two books in quick succession: Salt Water, in 1997 and Selected Poems 1976-1997, published in 1998. This year, Here to Eternity was published. This is an anthology that explores the themes of self, home, town, work, land, travel, war, belief and space.

Professor Motion's books of criticism begin with The Poetry of Edward Thomas in 1981, then Philip Larkin in 1982, followed by William Barnes: Selected Poems and Thomas Hardy: Selected Poems, both in 1994.

His biographies started with The Lamberts in 1986, for which he received the Somerset Maugham Award in 1987. This was followed by Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life in 1993, for which he was awarded the Whitbread Prize for Biography, then Keats in 1997 and Wainewright the Poisoner, last year. Within the category of the novel, he has had published: The Pale Companion in 1989 and Famous for the Creatures in 1991.

Professor Motion is Chairman of the Arts Council's Literature Panel, but he is also a poet, biographer, critic and novelist of international acclaim and distinction, whose work is justly celebrated for its richness, diversity and achievement. Also, he has been a prominent, public champion for the role of literature in contemporary life and for its importance in education at all levels.

It is for these reasons, therefore, that I invite you, Vice-Chancellor, to confer on Professor Andrew Motion, BA, M Lit, FRSL an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree of this University."