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The British poet Charlotte Mew – whose 150th anniversary falls in 2019 – was regarded as one of the best poets of her age by fellow writers. She has since been neglected, but her star is beginning to rise again. Two new books on this important writer are being prepared by Faber poet Julia Copus, who recently unveiled a blue plaque on Mew’s childhood house in Doughty Street.
Mew was a curious mix of New Woman and stalwart Victorian. Her poems speak to us strongly today, in these strangely mixed times of exposure and seclusion: they reveal the private agony of an isolated being who was forced to keep secret the tragedies of her personal life while being at the same time propelled by her work into the public arena. Her poetry transfigures that very private suffering into art that has a universal resonance.