23rd December 1955

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy is born

Glasgow-born Carol Ann Duffy was appointed poet laureate in May 2009. She was the first woman and first Scottish-born poet appointed to the role.

She was a published poet by the age of 15, and her plays were being performed on stage while she was still at university. A series of roles at newspapers and magazines followed.

First woman to take the job

When her appointment as poet laureate was announced, the New York Times of 1 May 2009 noted that she was “the first woman to take the 341-year-old job that has been held by, among others, Dryden, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Cecil Day-Lewis and Ted Hughes… Ms Duffy told the BBC radio program ‘Woman’s Hour’ that she had thought hard about accepting the post and that the decision to take it came ‘purely because they hadn’t had a woman’.”

The role of poet laureate is an honorary one, made by the monarch on the advice of the prime minister. The job involves writing poetry of one form or another recording significant events. Duffy’s first verse following her appointment concerned itself with the scandal of MPs claiming expenses to which they were not fully entitled. Several of the MPs involved were later required to repay money they had claimed.

Scott’s refusal

Although Carol Ann Duffy was the first Scottish-born poet to be so appointed, the role had previously been offered to Walter Scott, who had declined to take it up.

Duffy remained in the role until summer 2019. When she stepped down, it passed to Yorkshire-born Simon Armitage.



Other events that occured in December

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