Search - List of Books by Martin Seymour-Smith

Martin Roger Seymour-Smith (24 April 1928 – 1 July 1998) was a British poet, critic and biographer.

Seymour-Smith was born in London and educated at Oxford University where he was editor of Isis. He began as one of the most promising of Anglophone post-war poets, but became better known as a critic, writing biographies of Robert Graves (whom he met first at age 14 and maintained close ties with), Rudyard Kipling and Thomas Hardy, and producing numerous critical studies. He was also interested in astrology.

The poet and critic Robert Nye stated that that Seymour-Smith was "one of the finest British poets after 1945." Others to praise his poetry included Robert Graves, C. H. Sisson, Geoffrey Grigson and James Reeves.

He came to prominence in 1963, as the editor of the first twentieth century edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets to use the 'original' spelling. Characteristically, his commentary probed issues around Shakespeare's sexuality which upset many. Later, the author's Fallen Women (1969) and Sex and Society (1975) would become 'standard plundering material for more famous works' as the author good-humouredly claimed. He had known Alex Comfort, who was then writing The Joy of Sex (1972), from their schooldays at Highgate School and the two often swapped notes.

Seymour-Smith's Poets Through their Letters Vol 1 (Wyatt to Coleridge) was acclaimed for its scholarship, but sold poorly. Hence, Volume 2 was never published.

Meanwhile, his two volumes of poetry Tea with Miss Stockport (1963) and Reminiscences of Norma (1971), praised by many including Peter Porter whom Seymour-Smith had hardly courted, led to the acclaim cited above. But a perceived creative silence till his last extraordinary collection, Wilderness (1994) led inevitably to his reputation fading with the reading public during the 1980s.

The Guide to Modern World Literature is an encyclopedic attempt to describe all major 20th-century authors, in all languages. The book is over 1450 pages long. Daringly individualistic, it is eccentric and occasionally frustrating but always readable and highly stimulating. As Cyril Connolly summarised of the first (1973) edition: "I'm very much afraid he will prove indispensable!" And many judgments previously thought eccentric have proved sound. For instance, his criticism of Lawrence Durrell singled out his poetry as his real achievement; John Fowles, Muriel Spark, C. P. Snow, Malcolm Bradbury and even Ted Hughes first felt the chilling of their reputations in these covers. The stature of Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time (1951-76) as the greatest fictional post-war achievement was asserted: a view endorsed by Kingsley Amis, Hilary Spurling and an increasing number of readers since. And Seymour-Smith's prediction that T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets would not survive as a great poem by 2000, has been arguably vindicated.

The polyglot Seymour-Smith further used the book to champion writers he regarded as underrated, such as James Hanley, Laura Riding, Cesar Vallejo, Pio Baroja, Rayner Heppenstall and Jose Maria Arguedas, while attacking those he felt were overvalued, such as George Bernard Shaw, W. H. Auden and as mentioned above, T. S. Eliot. Seymour-Smith also disparaged John le Carré, Harold Pinter, Margaret Atwood[1], and Tom Stoppard whom he thought overrated.

In addition to The Guide to Modern World Literature, he wrote other large literature surveys, including The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written (1998), Who's Who in 20th Century Literature (1976), and Novels and Novelists: A Guide to the World of Fiction (1980). It was because of these books that Anthony Burgess likened Seymour-Smith to Samuel Johnson.

His Collected Poems were published in 2005 by Greenwich Exchange.

This author page uses material from the Wikipedia article "Martin Seymour-Smith", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0
Total Books: 53
Martin Seymour Smith Collected Poems 1943-1993
2004 - Martin Seymour Smith Collected Poems 1943-1993 (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781871551471
ISBN-10: 1871551471
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50 European Novels
2004 - 50 European Novels [Student Guides] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781871551495
ISBN-10: 1871551498
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Student Guide to Shakespeare's Sonnets
2001 - Student Guide to Shakespeare's Sonnets (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781871551389
ISBN-10: 1871551382
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The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written The History of Though from Ancient Times to Today
Student Guide to Shakespeare's Non-dramatic Poetry
2000 - Student Guide to Shakespeare's Non-dramatic Poetry [Student Guides] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781871551228
ISBN-10: 1871551226
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The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written The History of Thought from Ancient Times to Today
The Secret Agent Tie-in
1996 - The Secret Agent Tie-in (Paperback)Paperback, Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
ISBN-13: 9780140260588
ISBN-10: 0140260587
Genre: Literature & Fiction
  • Currently 2.7/5 Stars.
 3

Gnosticism The Path of Inner Knowledge
1996 - Gnosticism the Path of Inner Knowledge (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9780062513052
ISBN-10: 0062513052
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Nonfiction, Christian Books & Bibles
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1

Robert Graves his life and work
1995 - Robert Graves His Life and Work (Other)
ISBN-13: 9780747522058
ISBN-10: 0747522057
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Wilderness 36 Poems 1972-93
1994 - Wilderness 36 Poems 1972-93 (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781871551082
ISBN-10: 1871551080
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Hardy
1994 - Hardy (Hardcover)Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9780747510376
ISBN-10: 0747510377
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Inside Poetry
1986 - Inside Poetry (Paperback)Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9780435187729
ISBN-10: 0435187724
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New Astrologer
1983 - New Astrologer (Paperback)Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9780020819400
ISBN-10: 0020819404
Genres: Reference, Religion & Spirituality
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1

An Introduction to Fifty European Novels
1979 - An Introduction to Fifty European Novels [Pan literature guides] (Paperback)Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9780330258661
ISBN-10: 0330258664
Genre: Literature & Fiction
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Selected Poems of Walt Whitman
1976 - Selected Poems of Walt Whitman (Paperback)Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9780435150709
ISBN-10: 0435150707
Genre: Literature & Fiction
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Sex and Society
1975 - Sex and Society [Twentieth century studies] (Hardcover)Paperback
ISBN-13: 9780340109540
ISBN-10: 0340109548
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Guide to Modern World Literature v 1
1975 - Guide to Modern World Literature V 1 [Teach Yourself] (Paperback)Paperback
ISBN-13: 9780340195055
ISBN-10: 0340195053
Genre: Literature & Fiction
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Guide to Modern World Literature v 2
1975 - Guide to Modern World Literature V 2 [Teach Yourself] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780340202296
ISBN-10: 0340202297
Genre: Literature & Fiction
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Guide to Modern World Literature v 3
1975 - Guide to Modern World Literature V 3 [Teach Yourself] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780340202302
ISBN-10: 0340202300
Genre: Literature & Fiction
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The new astrologer
The New Astrologer (Other)Paperback, Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9780026097406
ISBN-10: 0026097400
Genre: Religion & Spirituality
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Who's Who in Twentieth-Century Literature
Who's Who in Twentieth-century Literature (Hardcover)Paperback, Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9780030139260
ISBN-10: 0030139260
Genre: Reference
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Fallen Women [Natural History of Society] (Hardcover)Paperback
Literature [Bluffer's Guides] (Paperback)