Kathleen Raine

Kathleen Jessie Raine (June 14 1908July 6 2003) was a British poet, critic and independent scholar writing in particular on William Blake and W. B. Yeats.


She was born in Ilford, Essex, the daughter of a Scots mother, who was a major influence on her daughter, and a Durham father (born in Wingate). Her paternal grandfather was a Durham miner, and Kathleen stayed at the village post-office in Newfield on at least one occasion. Her parents met as students at Armstrong College in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Kathleen spent part of World War I, 'a few short years', with her Aunty Peggy Black at the Manse in Great Bavington Northumberland: 'I loved everything about it.' For her it was an idyllic world and is the declared foundation of all her poetry. Kathleen always remembered Northumberland as Eden. 'In Northumberland I knew myself in my own place; and I never 'adjusted' myself to any other or forgot what I had so briefly but clearly seen and understood and experienced.' This period is described in the first book of her autobiography "Farewell Happy Fields." (1973).

She was educated at County High School, Ilford, and then read natural sciences and psychology on an Exhibition at Girton College, Cambridge, receiving her master's degree in 1929. While in Cambridge she met Jacob Bronowski, William Empson, Humphrey Jennings and Malcolm Lowry. [http://www.temenosacademy.org/temenos_raine_life.html] In later life she was a friend and colleague of the kabbalist author and teacher, Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi.

In 1939-41 Kathleen and her children shared a house at 49a Wordsworth Street in Penrith with Janet Adam Smith and Michael Roberts and later lived in Martindale. She was a friend of Winifred Nicholson. Her complex and unsatisfactory private life included marriage to Hugh Sykes Davies, whom she left for Charles Madge — their subsequent marriage with two children broke up — and an unrequited passion for Gavin Maxwell. The title of Maxwell's most famous book "Ring of Bright Water" (subsequently made into a film of the same name starring Virginia McKenna) was taken from a line in Kathleen's poem "The Marriage of Psyche". The relationship with Maxwell ended in 1956 when Raine lost his pet otter, Mijbil, indirectly causing the animal's death. Raine held herself responsible, not only for losing Mijbil but for a curse she had uttered shortly beforehand, frustrated by Maxwell's homosexuality: "Let Gavin suffer in this place as I am suffering now." Raine blamed herself thereafter for all Maxwell's misfortunes, beginning with Mijbil's death and ending with the cancer that took his life in 1969. ["Kathleen Raine:Obituary," The Guardian, London, 8/7/2003.]

In 1959 Kathleen Raine's son James Madge married Jennifer Alliston, one of the daughters of her friend, architect and town planner Jane Drew. Jane was a direct descendant of the neoplatonist Thomas Taylor [The exact line is: Thomas Taylor(born 1758) > Mary Meredith Taylor(1787) > Samuel Beverly Jones(1827) > Emma Spering Jones(1873) > Jane Drew(1911)] who Kathleen studied and wrote about. Thus a link was made between them - by her grandchildren.

At the time of her death, following an accident, she resided in London.


Her first book of poetry, "Stone And Flower" (1943) was published by Tambimuttu, and illustrated by Barbara Hepworth. In 1946 the collection "Living in Time" was released, followed by "The Pythoness" in 1949. Her "Collected Poems" (2000) drew from eleven previous volumes of poetry. Her classics include "Who Are We?" There were many subsequent prose and poetry works, including "Blake and Tradition", published in 1968.

The story of her life is told in a three-volume autobiography that is notable for the author's attempts to read (or impose) a structure on her memories that is quasi mythical, thus relating her own life to a larger pattern. This reflects patterns that can be detected in her poetry, in which she was clearly influenced by W. B. Yeats. The three books were originally published separately and later brought together in a single volume, entitled "Autobiographies" (the title itself is in conscious imitation of Yeats), edited by Lucien Jenkins.

Kathleen Raine made excellent translations of Honoré de Balzac's "Cousine Bette" (Cousin Bette, 1948) and "Illusions perdues" ("Lost Illusions", 1951).

She was a frequent contributor to the quarterly journal, Studies in Comparative Religion, which dealt with religious symbolism and the Traditionalist perspective. She founded, in 1981, "Temenos", a periodical, and later, in 1990, the Temenos Academy of Integral Studies, a teaching academy that stressed a multistranded universalist philosophy, and in support of her generally Platonist and Neoplatonist views on poetry and culture in general. She studied the 18th-century English Platonist Thomas Taylor (1758-1835), and published a selection of his works. ["Thomas Taylor the Platonist: Selected Writings," Raine, K. and Harper, G.M., eds., Bollingen Series 88, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969 (also pub. Princeton University, USA).]

Kathleen Raine was a research fellow at Girton College from 1955 to 1961, and in 1962 she was the Andrew Mellon Lecturer at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. She taught at Harvard for at least one course about Myth and Literature offered to teachers and professors in the summer. She also spoke on Yeats and Blake and other topics at the Yeats School in Sligo, Ireland in the summer of 1974. A professor at Cambridge and the author of a number of scholarly books, she was an expert on Coleridge, Blake, ["Lighting a Candle: Kathleen Raine and Temenos," Temenos Academy Papers, no. 25, pub. Temenos Academy, 2008, p. 92] and Yeats.


She received honorary doctorates from universities in the United Kingdom, France and the United States and won numerous awards and honors, including the Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize (1952), Edna St. Vincent Millay Prize from the American Poetry Society (date unknown), Arts Council Award (1953), Oscar Blumenthal Prize (1961), the Smith Literary Award (1972). She was also awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 1992 and, in 2000, was made both a CBE and a Commandeur de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.



* "Stone And Flower", (p.u.), 1943
* "Living in Time", (p.u.) 1946
* "The Pythoness". (p.u.), 1949.
* "The Year One: Poems", H. Hamilton, 1952
* "The Hollow Hill": and other poems 1960-1964, H Hamilton, 1965
* "Six Dreams: and other poems", Enitharmon, 1968
* "Penguin Modern Poets 17", Penguin, 1970
* "Lost Country", H. Hamilton, 1971
* "On a Deserted Shore", H. Hamilton, 1973
* "The Oracle in the Heart, and other poems", 1975-1978, Dolmen Press/G. Allen & Unwin, 1980
* "Collected poems", 1935-1980, Allen & Unwin, 1981
* "The Presence: Poems", 1984-87, Golgonooza Press, 1987
* "Selected Poems", Golgonooza Press 1988
* "Living with Mystery: Poems 1987-91", Golgonooza Press, 1992
* "The Collected Poems of Kathleen Raine", ed. Brian Keeble, Golgonooza Press, 2000 Prose

* "Blake and Tradition", Routledge, 1968
* "Thomas Taylor the Platonist. Selected Writings", Raine, K. and Harper, G.M., eds., Bollingen Series 88, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969 (also pub. Princeton University, USA).
* "William Blake", The World of Art Library - Artists, Arts Book Society, Thames and Hudson, London, 1970 (216 pp, 156 illustrations),
* "Yeats, the Tarot and the Golden Dawn", Dolmen Press, 1973
* "The Inner Journey of the Poet", Golgonooza Press, 1976
* "From Blake to a Vision", (p.u.), 1979
* "Blake and The New Age", George Allen and Unwin, 1979
* "Blake and Tradition", 2 Volumes, Routledge, 2002
* "Seeing God Everywhere: Essays on Nature and the Sacred" (World Wisdom, 2004) (contributed essay)
* "The Betrayal of Tradition: Essays on the Spiritual Crisis of Modernity" (World Wisdom, 2005) (contributed essay)


* "Farewell Happy Fields", Hamilton/G. Braziller, 1974
* "The Land Unknown", Hamilton/G. Braziller, 1975
* "The Lion's Mouth", Hamilton/G. Braziller, 1977. autob.
* "Autobiographies", ed. Lucien Jenkins, Skoob Books, 1991



*"Lighting a Candle: Kathleen Raine and Temenos," Temenos Academy Papers, no. 25, pub. Temenos Academy, 2008.

External links

* [http://books.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,11617,993610,00.html Guardian Unlimited obituary]
* [http://www.temenosacademy.org/ Temenos Academy]
* [http://www.temenosacademy.org/temenos_raine_life.html Short biography: Temenos Academy]
* [http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/kathleen_raine/poems/ Poems: Kathleen Raine]
* [http://gateway.uvic.ca/spcoll/sc.html Special Collections, University of Victoria] Notebooks, correspondence, and ts. of Raine's works are held in the Raine fonds, the Philobiblion fonds, the Herbert Read fonds, and the Robin Skelton fonds.

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