William Bedford

'One of the finest poets and writers of our generation.’ Karen Maitland, Company of Liars and The Owl Killers



(Heinemann 1990 and Mandarin 1991).
Shortlisted for the 1990 Guardian Fiction Prize.

‘An entertaining as well as a profound book. I was totally absorbed by its feeling of truth and wholeness.’
Alan Sillitoe

‘Here is a novel which is both unmannered and powerful, a rare and potent combination.’
Jim Crace

‘William Bedford has sketched a whole society in striking, violent, yet sensitive colours. This is indeed a strong book.’
Stanley Middleton

‘A memorable first novel.’
Sunday Express

‘Bedford is a fine writer, succinct, entertaining, unpretentious.’
London Evening Standard

‘Refreshingly simple.’
Times Literary Supplement

‘A splendid start.’
London Magazine

Golden Gallopers
(Bodley Head, 1991).

‘A clever and challenging story. This delightful story will be enjoyed by 8-10 year olds.’
The Junior Bookshelf

All Shook Up
(Macmillan 1992, Picador 1993).

‘This is an enchanting slice of 1950s nostalgia and a brilliant follow-up to Bedford’s first novel, the much admired Happiland. Marvellous and moving.’
Daily Mail

‘A compelling story of adolescence, a humourous, endearing book.’

‘The half understood intensities of adolescence are captured superbly.’
Times Literary Supplement

‘Impressive and horribly convincing – growing up is hard to do in this fine, strong, unmannered book.’

‘A fine, quiet writer, with a poet’s command of telling detail and a particular talent for gentle irony.’
Literary Review

‘It’s good stuff, and it’s very funny.’
City Limits

‘Bedford’s grip on the reader’s attention is remorseless. The prose is measured, unpretentious, often scoured, as steely and brittle as the lives it conjures up. A new generation’s moment has come.’
Scotland on Sunday

Catholic Herald

‘A highly readable and dynamic novel.’
Northern Echo

‘Bedford is very distinctive and this novel is as absorbing as it is disturbing.’
Hampstead & Highgate Express

(Bodley Head, 1992).

‘An epic voyage of self-discovery, adventure and drama. A powerful storyline.’
The Independent on Sunday

(Macmillan, 1993)

‘Bedford’s wistful tale treads territory that few men would brave, and fewer still could map with his fine feeling. Evoking the 60s as strongly as pop art and joss sticks, Catwalking goes straight and simply to the heart.’

The Lost Mariner
(Little Brown, 1995, Abacus, 1996).

‘Propelled by pure narrative drive - thrilling stuff.’
Sunday Telegraph

‘A novel of great imaginative force. Bedford’s high promise as a novelist is very much in evidence.’
Daily Telegraph

‘Echoes of Dickens and Melville, a Catholic novelist to watch.’
Catholic Herald

The Freedom Tree
(Little Brown, 1997, Abacus, 1998).

‘Those who like the historical adventure story in its purest, most old-fashioned form will love to read it.’
The Times

‘A fine historical novel.’
Bridlington Gazette

‘It’s all here: love, drama, adventure, tragedy. A gripping read.’
Wales on Sunday

‘Powerfully imagined, has the momentum of a contemporary thriller.’
Times Literary Supplement

‘A fine example of a historical novel.’
Ireland on Sunday

‘A gripping thriller.’
Huddersfield Daily Examiner

The Freedom Tree has an elemental appeal, it will give those lucky enough to have discovered it many hours of excitement.’

‘A highly enjoyable historical novel.’
Mail on Sunday

‘A good old fashioned adventure yarn.’
Manchester Evening News

‘This is a book you can completely lose yourself in. It is terrifying, thrilling and tear-jerking – in short, it is a winner.’
Dorset Evening Echo

The Joy Riders
(Mammoth Suspense, 1998)

Esme’s Owl
(Mammoth Read, 1999)

‘A simple plot with a reassuringly happy solution and recognisably real characters.’
The School Librarian

‘A touching, light-hearted and definitely not-scary story.’
Keighley News Midweek

The Stowaway
(Mammoth Read, 2001)

(Oxford, 2003)

The Glow-worm Who Lost Her Glow
(Banana Bird, 2004)

‘Another fantastic book from the Go Bananas series.’
Liverpool Echo

‘Highly recommended.’
The Manitoba Library Association

Collecting Bottle Tops
(Salzburg University Press, 2009)

‘William Bedford’s poems carry weight, the weight of humanity that is sadly missing from too many falsely acknowledged practitioners of the art today. His poems speak of love and suffering, often in a domestic setting, comprehensively modulated and adjusted.’

‘This is not writing tinged with romantic half-truths. It is a world where life is very much on the edge. The key to Bedford’s poetry is the unflinching openness in his dealings with readers. He bares all, offering complete biographical detail which works when a writer has experiences to offer that are not common to those who may buy his books. It is a very emotional and enticing read.’

‘William Bedford’s poetic voice seems to me to be hugely intelligent and troubled . . . He creates space in his poetry, as if the first line of a poem is a pebble thrown into water which then radiates larger and wider images and resonances . . . drenched in the clear light of historical imagination . . . Sometimes poets can read cities spectrally. Bedford inhabits cityscapes in a way that conveys that really exquisite sense of being, and the other sense of not quite ever being able to raise one’s head and get clear . . . But I don’t find William Bedford especially anxious, rather he is calm, existential, even cool.’

‘It is what the poet knows that matters and, like all fine poets, Bedford knows much about poetry and how to approach its critical materials. There is a controlling intelligence at work in the compass of each of his poems, an underlying dedication to craft sustained over many years . . . Aesthetics is not just a word for its own sake in Bedford’s approach to composition: it is aesthesis in its orginal Greek meaning, the source of perception itself necessarily grounded in experience and in love.’
Sam Milne

‘Its heart, and its best poems, are the sequence The Redlit Boys, reminiscences of his Yorkshire childhood and forebears which in some ways recall Geoffrey Hill’s Mercian Hymns. Bedford’s sequence, however, is in no way derivative, and its vivid vignettes in unrhymed sonnets are vivid and poignant . . . the sequence shows a fine, novelistic selection of detail . . . Bedford records it all with reticent compassion and makes the lives of these previous generations as rich as any mythology.’
The Warwick Review

Collecting Bottle Tops draws from four of Bedford’s five previously published collections, together with a wealth of more recent poetry. Like Larkin, Bedford seems to want readers to carry away from the poem in their minds not the poem, but the experience. The precision of his craftsmanship captures, in a deceptively simple way, the exact emotion of a scene. His moving sequence, The Redlit Boys, is a sustained elegy for a whole lost culture and the working class roots of his family.’

None of the Cadillacs Was Pink
(Solidus, 2009)

‘One of the finest poets and writers of our generation.’
 Karen Maitland
Company of Liars and The Owl Killers

‘The roots of Bedford’s writing remain in the places where he grew up: the life of the fish docks and the farigrounds of the east coast; the farms and the American nuclear rocket base at Hemswell in north Lincolnshire. None of the Cadillacs was Pink is a great introduction to an exceptional regional author.’
The Article

‘I chose this book because of its superb title – the last and best memoir in a collection of sixteen stories. These Humberside and Lincolnshire stories have a background beat of Fifties’ music that sets them firmly in an exciting, disturbing time for young people everywhere, as old ways of living made way for new along the East Coast of England. A perfect evocation of the east coast of England in the nineteen-fifites – wonderful stuff.’
The Bookbag

‘Wonderfully atmospheric – the essays give a fantastic feeling for the 50s and what it was like growing up in those days. The stories have a wonderful humanity about them.’
The People’s Book Prize

The People’s Book Prize
November 2009

‘It is apparent when Bedford writes of “A pig . . . discovered, floating in the middle of a field on a settee” that he has a poet’s eye for telling detail . . . and an essayist’s ability to write of the particular . . . effortlessly embroiling the reader in a world that is universal. That it seems effortless is, of course, a testimony to Bedford’s skill as a writer. Time and again everyday lives are tellingly scrutinised and as part of that process a still recognisable past is sometimes beautifully, sometimes brutally evoked.

Of the fifteen stories my favourite is 'Wildlife' . . . Bedford . . . working as Cheever said he did: “with intuition, apprehension, dreams, concepts” under which circumstances “characters and events come simultaneously”. The story has depth and resonance but there’s nothing forced or strained about it. 'Wildlife' has the ring of truth to it; in fact all of the stories felt so authentic choosing a favourite wasn’t easy.

Bedford’s new collection is a rewarding read. The final essay, which gives the collection its title, is packed with emotions and images . . . a tight and beautifully constrained piece of writing. The writing (throughout) has a clarity resulting from the omission of the superfluous and the feeling that these stories and essays belong together. Before reading Cadillacs I hadn’t heard of William Bedford. Since reading it I’m certain that when I come across anything else by him I’ll check it out.’
Sunk Island Review

The Fen Dancing
(Red Squirrel Press, 2014)

'There is at the heart of William Bedford's poems, a grieving at the passing of a way of life and the eloquent heartache of no longer quite belonging to the landscape he grew from. The human instinct to tell each other stories, to write poems, to build sandcastles that capture something of our time on earth is present here. So too, is how the music of spoken dialect and the music of literature can occupy the same tongue.'
Helen Ivory
Waiting for Bluebeard

'Whether he is invoking his family ghosts or the literary heroes who have shaped him, William Bedford speaks directly in verse that is uncluttered and musical. Always authentic, always poignant, these are poems in which the images are as bright and numinous as "the gold lettering on the carrier cart … My family name etched into timeless sunlight."'
David Cooke
London Magazine

'In these hauntingly tender poems, William Bedford captures all our pasts with the precision, cadences and deceptive simplicity of an Alan Bennett play. The people stare out at you, like images in old photographs, sometimes smiling, sometimes puzzled, but like the lost children in one of the poems, they will "watch you for the rest of your life, wondering why you had left them." A superb and life-affirming collection.'
Karen Maitland
The Owl Killers

'This haunting, lived-in collection, steeped in the earth, resurrects – through ancestral and personal, often sensuous, memories – an almost bygone rural England. The vivid, detailed vignettes are charged with the transcendent. Learning and light-hearted wit combine to make this book a beautiful English saying, reminiscent of John Clare.'
Patricia McCarthy

The Bread Horse
(Red Squirrel Press, 2015).

'William Bedford's reminiscences of his Yorkshire childhood and forebears in some ways recall Geoffrey Hill's Mercian Hymns. Bedford's sequence, however, is in no way derivative, and its vignettes in unrhymed sonnets are vivid and poignant… the sequence shows a fine, novelistic selection of detail… Bedford records it all with reticent compassion and makes the lives of these previous generations as rich as any mythology.'
Grevel Lindop
The Warwick Review

'Haunting and haunted, this is a collection to be savoured on so many levels, to be re-visited for the characters that leap from the pages demanding attention; or hover in the margins waiting to be discovered anew. They are all there and all unforgettable.'
Wendy Klein
The High Window



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William Bedford
William Bedford
William Bedford
William Bedford