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Summoned by Bells: A Verse Autobiography Paperback – 26 Oct 2001

11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 115 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; New edition edition (26 Oct. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719560314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719560316
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 13.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 966,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

I abandon all the usual literary equivocations and call it a masterpiece. (Sunday Times)

Betjeman is perhaps as completely orginial a writer as has ever existed. (Times Literary Supplement)

Book Description

Summoned by Bells has become a classic. Shortly after it was published in 1960 it was heralded as the verse autobiography of the century. It is an evocative narrative of the agonies and delights of growing up, set against the familiar backgrounds of Highgate, Cornwall, Marlborough and Oxford.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Graham S on 22 May 2009
Format: Hardcover
To the lover of poetry who has already been captivated by this wonderful blank verse autobiography, no recommendation or review is necesary, as you'll probably only be visiting this site to order a replacement copy for the one that mysteriously never reappeared after loaning it to a colleague or friend!

To the poetry lover who has not yet had the delight of becoming familiar with this classic, it just needs to be stated that all the superlatives that have been applied to Summoned By Bells are completely justified.

Bicycles with Sturmey Archer gears, Euthymol toothpaste, the stations of the London Underground, the Perpendicular architecture of Betjeman's beloved Church of England and outings to Cornwall on the London and South Western Railway are all woven into an autobiographical narrative that encompasses unpleasant nursemaids, early attempts at poetry, bullying at school, the sights and smells of second-hand bookshops and Sunday Evensong ... and the list goes on and on.

My advice: buy two copies, as the one that you loan to a friend is unlikely to make a reappearance!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ms. A. Fletcher on 5 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
Summoned by Bells is the best of all the works of John Betjeman. I usually steer clear of autobiographies but this one, in an understandable prose or blank verse is wonderful. I cannot rate it too highly it's the best of the best.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Pendragon on 23 Aug. 2011
Format: Hardcover
This verse autobiography of John Betjeman's growth from a small boy to early manhood is extremly readable, I will in fact read this book again I enjoyed it so much the first time around!
[ASIN:071952220X Summoned by Bells]]
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When Sir John Betjeman, much-loved poet laureate and campaigner for our unconsidered heritage, decided to write an autobiography, it was inevitably in blank verse - but don't be frightened off as it is so natural you would never realise it is a poem. The tone is warm, humorous and conversational, even confessional, rather than being pompous or 'poetic'. Summoned by Bells takes us from his earliest years in the semi-rural suburbs of pre-Great war Harrow, via miserable schooldays and an inglorious university career, to his first painful attempt to earn a living as a prep school master. And Betjeman's inimitable voice brings it alive. This must stand as the definitive recording, a true pleasure to listen to.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Pethybridge on 13 May 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Very pleased with the quality of CD. Perfect for listening to on a long drive or just relaxing at home.
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By Douglas Kemp on 15 Oct. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Narrated in blank verse, this is an honest and pellucid account of Betjeman's youth. A delight to read that is both intriguing from a biographical perspective as well as examples of Betjeman's wonderful poetry and nostalgic vision of a long-gone England.
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