C. H. Sisson

C. H. Sisson

C. H. Sisson, by Patrick Swift, c. 1960
Born 22 April 1914(1914-04-22)
Died 5 September 2003(2003-09-05) (aged 89)
Occupation Poet, Writer, Translator.
Nationality English
Education University of Bristol

Charles Hubert Sisson (also known as C. H. Sisson) CH (22 April 1914 – 5 September 2003) was a British writer, best known as a poet and translator.



Born in Bristol in 1914, C. H. Sisson was noted as a poet, novelist, essayist and an important translator. He was a great friend of the critic and writer Donald Davie, with whom he corresponded regularly.[1]

Sisson was a student at the University of Bristol where he read English and Philosophy. As a poet he first came to light through the London Arts Review, X,[2] founded by the painter Patrick Swift and the poet David Wright. He reacted against the prevailing intellectual climate of the 1930s, particularly the Auden Group, preferring to go back to the anti-romantic T. E. Hulme, and to the Anglican tradition. The modernism of his poetry follows a 'distinct genealogy' from Hulme to Eliot, Pound, Ford Madox Ford and Wyndham Lewis.[3] His novel Christopher Homm experiments with form and is told backwards.

Sisson served in the British Army during World War II in India and joined the Ministry of Labour in 1936. He worked as a civil servant and wrote a standard text The Spirit of British Administration (1959) arising from his work and a comparison with other European methods. Sisson was a 'severe critic of the Civil Service and some of his essays caused controversy'.[4] In his collection The London Zoo he writes this epitaph 'Here lies a civil servant. He was civil/ To everyone, and servant to the devil.'[5]

Sisson was married, in 1937, Nora Gilbertson (d. 2003) and they had two daughters.[6] In 1993 C.H. Sisson was appointed a Companion of Honour for his services to Literature. He died on 5 September 2003.[6]


Poetry collections


Critical works (books)

Collected translations

  • Versions and Perversions of Heine (1955) translations
  • The Poetry of Catulus, C. H. Sisson (Trans.), The Viking Press, New York, 1966
  • The Poetry of Catullus (1966 MacGibbon and Kee, 1966) translator
  • The Poetic Art, Horace (Carcanet Press, 1978)
  • Some Tales Of La Fontaine, La Fontaine, Translated by C.H.Sisson, (Carcanet Press, 1979)
  • The Divine Comedy, Alighieri, Dante; Sisson, C. H. (translator), (Carcanet Press, 1980)
  • Song of Roland trans. C.H. Sisson. (Carcanet Press, 1983)
  • The Aeneid (Translator) (Carcanet Press, 1986)
  • Collected Translations Carcanet, 1996
  • Britannicus, Phaedra, Athaliah by Jean Racine (1987), Jean Racine; C.H. Sisson (translator), Oxford Paperbacks, 2001(ISBN 0-19-283827-X)


  1. ^ Schmidt, Michael: Lives of the Poets, 749. Wiedenfeld and Nicolson, 2007.
  2. ^ Michael Schmidt (founder of Carcanet Press, editor of Poetry Nation Review and Professor of Poetry at the University of Glasgow) writing in The Guardian in 2006 [1]
  3. ^ Schmidt, Michael: Lives of the Poets, p754. Wiedenfeld and Nicolson, 2007.
  4. ^ Schmidt, Michael: Lives of the Poets, p 750. Wiedenfeld and Nicolson, 2007.
  5. ^ Schmidt, Michael: Lives of the Poets, p. Wiedenfeld and Nicolson, 2007.
  6. ^ a b Obituary Guardian 9 September 2003

External links

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