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20th April 2019

The Book of Common Prayer may have been one of the earliest influences on the award-
winning poet Wendy Cope, it was revealed this week.

Raised in Kent, where her parents often recited poetry to her, she was regularly exposed to
the language and rhythm of the Prayer Book when she attended church.

She said: ‘I became familiar with the Book of Common Prayer during boring Sunday morning
services in my childhood. Several decades later I began attending services in Winchester
Cathedral to listen to the music. I was not surprised to be moved by the music but I hadn't
expected to be so profoundly affected by the language of the Prayer Book.

‘After many years of avoiding church, it was wonderful to come back and rediscover the
words I had known as a child. I especially love the collects at Evensong and Coverdale's

Myles Coverdale, the translator of the Psalms and a contemporary of the Prayer Book
compiler Thomas Cranmer, was an English ecclesiastical reformer chiefly known as a
translator of the Bible as well as a preacher and, briefly, Bishop of Exeter.

Wendy, who read history at Oxford University, taught in primary schools for many years
before publishing her first collection of poetry, Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis (1986).
Reviewing her work in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the critic and poet A.M. Juster
declared, ‘one has to go back to Byron to find a poet as consistently witty, wide-ranging, and
technically outstanding as Cope.’

Wendy Cope’s poetry collections include Serious Concerns (1992); If I Don’t Know (2001),
shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Award; Two Cures for Love: Selected Poems
1979–2006 (2008); Family Values (2011); Christmas Poems (2017), a collection of new and
previously published Christmas-themed work; and Anecdotal Evidence (2018). She is the
author of the prose collection Life, Love and the Archers (2015) and two books for children,
Twiddling Your Thumbs (1988) and The River Girl (1991), and the editor of numerous
anthologies, including, The Faber Book of Bedtime Stories (1999).

Wendy has received a Cholmondeley Award and a Michael Braude Award for Light Verse
from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2010, she was awarded an Order of the
British Empire. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and lives in Ely.

Pictured is award-winning poet Wendy Cope
Photo by Adrian Harvey

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