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Dr Ruth Padel

ruthpadelReader in Poetry

Tel +44 (0)20 7848 7829


Address Department of English
King's College London
Room 6.37 Virginia Woolf Building
London WC2B 6LE

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Ruth Padel FRSL, MA, DPhil (Oxon) is an award-winning poet, scholar, novelist, critic and former Chair of the Poetry Society, closely connected to music, to wildlife conservation, to crossovers between science and art, to India and to Greece. Born in London, she began as a classicist, teaching and writing on ancient Greek tragedy (In and Out of the Mind, 1992 and Whom Gods Destroy, 1995) and has lived extensively in Crete.

She has written nine poetry collections, shortlisted for all major UK prizes, most recently an internationally praised lyric biography of her ancestor Charles Darwin; and The Mara Crossing, which explores migration, human and animal, in both poetry and prose: ‘A book of wonders: Montaigne's and Darwin's 21st-century child” (Independent). She has served as a judge and Chair of Judges for the TS Eliot, Forward and Costa poetry prizes.

In prose, she is well-known for her books about reading contemporary poetry: 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem, The Poem and the Journey, based on an influential column she wrote for three years in the Independent on Sunday, and Silent Letters of the Alphabet. Her critical works include I’m A Man: Sex, Gods and Rock ‘n’ Roll (Faber, 2000) on rock music and Greek myth. Her travel-memoir Tigers in Red Weather is an internationally lauded account of tiger conservation across Asia. Her first novel, Where the Serpent Lives (2010) features wildlife science and crime in India. “A nature lover’s delight: compelling, acute, surprisingly readable. She has done for the forests of Karnataka and Bengal what Amitav Ghosh did for the Sundarbans,” (India Today).

A well-known broadcaster, she wrote and presented Radio 4’s Poetry Workshop, in which she travelled the UK working with different poetry groups on their poems, and has done several five-part Radio 4 programmes on the work and lives of artists and thinkers such as Edward Elgar, Charles Darwin and Tennyson. She is a Trustee of the Zoological Society of London and on the International Advisory Board of The Critical Muslim magazine.

Further information can be found on Ruth Padel's website.

Research interests and PhD supervision
  • Poetry, history, nature, science, myth, opera, chamber music, religion
Selected publications
  • The Mara Crossing (Chatto 2012)
  • Darwin – A Life in Poems (Chatto 2009)
  • The Poem and the Journey (Vintage 2006)
  • 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem (Vintage 2002)
  • Learning to Make an Oud in Nazareth (Chatto 2014)
  • Where the Serpent Lives (Abacus 2010)
Public engagement and expertise

Extensive experience in author interviews, in radio and in print; chairing and participating in literary events on a broad range of topics.





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