'My reading life has been immeasurably improved by Rosemary Tonks's Bedouin of the London Evening' - Max Porter, Guardian (Books of the Year 2015)
'The poet Rosemary Tonks her name in the 60s and 70s, then withdrew from public sight and published nothing in the later part of her life. Following her recent death, Neil Astley has collected and introduced her work in Bedouin of the London Evening. It's a highly original collection, mingling savage realism with a surreal fancy, and it restores an essential voice of late-20th-century British poetry to its rightful place.' - Andrew Motion, Guardian (Books of the Year 2014)
'The world has waited for this slim volume since 1973... It is important for two reasons. First, we can read again her challenging and original poetry, long out of print; and second, with her devoted present publisher Neil Astley's excellent introduction, we learn what happened to Tonks... Tonks repays deeper study: densely allusive, self-mocking, richly spiked with insight - and beauty. A great treat. An extreme spirit.' - Caroline Bowder, Church Times (Christmas Books)
'Between 1963 and 1974, Rosemary Tonks published two collections of poetry as well as novels, short stories and reviews. Then she disappeared... Now, finally, Neil Astley has been able to compile her collected poems. And what a joy they are: sensuous, witty, alternately cool and hot-blooded. Tonks's verse, perfectly tuned to the life of cities, channels Baudelaire and Rimbaud, but always in her own easy voice.' - New Statesman, NS Recommends
'Her reappearance in this important and well-documented book, which includes two penetrating reviews, a short story and an interview, is the best sort of rediscovery: one that disrupts our sense of poetic continuity even as it restores it.' - Patrick McGuinness, London Review of Books
'...like Plath, Tonks made an extraordinary jump with her second collection, arriving at a confident and utterly distinctive voice. Like Ariel, Iliad seems to open new doors in poetry; like Ariel, the new beginning was also an abrupt end.' - Suzi Feay, Independent on Sunday
'After publishing two seedily glittering books of verse in the 1960s, Rosemary Tonks - who died this year - renounced literature. This exciting collection restores to us a unique oeuvre which evokes the "sofas, fogs and cinemas" of post-war London, as though the French poet Baudelaire had written in a Soho greasy spoon.' - Jeremy Noel-Tod, Sunday Times
'Forty years after her disappearance, this fascinating collection of her work returns her to us... this writing has unmistakable flair. It is bohemian, ardent, sensual and of its time.' - Kate Kellaway, Observer
About the Author
Rosemary Tonks (1928-2014) was a colourful figure in the London literary scene during the 1960s. She published two poetry collections, Notes on Cafés and Bedrooms (Putnam, 1963) and Iliad of Broken Sentences (The Bodley Head, 1967), and six novels, from Opium Fogs (1963) to The Halt During the Chase (1972), wrote for The Observer, The Times, The New York Review of Books, The Listener, The New Statesman and Encounter, and presented poetry programmes for the BBC.
Following the death of her mother, a crisis of religious faith, her divorce and nearly losing her sight, she renounced literature, suppressed her own books, left London for Bournemouth and cut herself off from family and friends. After travelling to Jerusalem in 1981 to be baptised by the River Jordan, she created a new identity for herself, her whereabouts known only to family. Thought to be living somewhere as a recluse, she was in fact continuing to inhabit cafes and parks, and was active as a silent, often solitary evangelist working outside any church, giving out Bibles in London and Bournemouth. In 2009 she was the subject of Brian Patten's BBC radio documentary The Poet Who Vanished. All her published poetry was made available for the first time in over 40 years in Bedouin of the London Evening: Collected Poems, published by Bloodaxe Books in October 2014. This edition also includes a small selection of her prose. A second edition with an expanded introduction and an additional prose piece was issued in 2016.