Betjeman, Sir John (bĕtˈjəmən) [key], 1906–84, English poet, b. London. Traditional in rhyme and meter, his verse combined a witty appraisal of the English present with nostalgia for England's past, especially the Victorian past. His published collections include Mt. Zion (1933), Continental Dew (1937), Old Lights for New Chancels (1940), A Few Late Chrysanthemums (1954), High and Low (1966), Metro–Land (1977), Church Poems (1981), and Collected Poems (1971 and 2006). He also wrote numerous architectural studies, including Ghastly Good Taste or a Depressing Story of the Rise and Fall of English Architecture (1933, rev. ed. 1971) and A Pictorial History of English Architecture (1972). Knighted in 1969, he was named poet laureate of England in 1972.
See Summoned by Bells (1960), an autobiography in verse; biographies by P. Taylor-Martin (1983), B. Hillier (1988 and 2002), and A. N. Wilson (2006); B. Hillier, John Betjeman: A Life in Pictures (1984); C. L. Green, ed., John Betjeman Letters (2 vol., 1994–95); studies by M. L. Stapleton (1974) and F. Delaney (1983).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.