Ten years on, all Cornwall continues to thunder at the door of poetic genius
It is ten years this week that Cornwall lost a man regarded by many as the "Poet Laureate we never had".
Charles Causley, who was 86, died as he lived, in Launceston, a town for which he created a body of work unrivalled in Cornish literature.
From his days as a Royal Navy seaman serving during the Second World War to the years as a primary school teacher in his home town, through to lecture tours of Australia and Canada, Causley remained a dignified figure. Enjoying, though never courting, fame, he won numerous awards over the years, from the CBE and Queen's Medal for Poetry to being made a Bard of Gorsedh Kernow and a Companion of the Royal Society of Literature.
Loved as much for his kindly character as for his work, he is regarded as a poet of national and international importance. From his 1951 debut, Farewell Aggie Weston, through popular collections like Survivor's Leave and children's favourites such as Figgie Hobbin to Macmillan's Collected Poems 1951-1997, his output was consistent and impressive.
Yet despite his fame, Causley lived a modest life in a small cottage, surrounded by books and cats. Quietly spoken, mischievously witty, and with a genuine interest in everything and everyone, he would no doubt be intrigued by the appearance of three newly published books.
Malcolm Wright started the ball rolling earlier in the summer with Charles Causley: A Universal Poet, a slim but well-researched, informative and very readable introduction to the man and the motivations for his work.
Next up was Charles Causley: Theatre Works, published by Francis Boutle. Edited by Alan M Kent, the collection of plays sheds new light on the poet's wider literary work and reveals him to be a fine playwright with an important place in British theatrical history.
Containing 11 theatrical works, including verse drama, musical theatre works and the libretto for an opera, among the titles are The Doctor And The Devils, The Ballad of Aucassin and Nicolette, and The Tinderbox, which Causley wrote for Kneehigh in 1990.
Finally, this week sees the launch of perhaps the most significant of the three. All Cornwall Thunders At My Door is, remarkably, the first full biography of the Cornish poet. Written by Laurence Green, it has been meticulously researched using archive material and the personal reminiscences of people in Launceston and elsewhere who knew Causley.
Covering his early life, wartime service, teaching career and the years of success, Green provides not only a truthful overview of this literary giant but does so in the most entertaining of styles.
Never shy of his admiration for his subject, Green clearly set out to pen a tribute, but this doesn't stop him from pointing up some of Causley's idiosyncrasies and foibles. Green's examination of the man and his oeuvre succeeds in adding hugely to our knowledge of a writer who would always say when asked about the meaning of a particular piece of verse: "It's all there in the poem."
In his foreword, Alan M Kent writes: "Any biographer of Causley has many challenges. Causley's life – particularly after his service in the Second World war – may seem nondescript and parochial, but as Green shows us, the poet's post-war life was far from that. In knowing more about Causley, we come to know more about the poems themselves. We might assume Causley was a rather shy and socially incongruent young man, and yet the truth is somewhat different. Green provides us with the answers in his remarkable exploration."
A long-time admirer of the poet, Laurence Green worked for many years as a wood machinist and teaching assistant before turning to writing.
"Three years ago during a poetry evening at Sharpham House in South Devon, near where I live, the poet Alice Oswald suggested I write a biography of Causley," he explained. "I put the idea out of my head as being impossible, but she suggested it again and again.
"Then, one frosty night in Launceston after the Causley carol service in St Thomas' church, my wife and I were walking back to Eagle House Hotel when we got into conversation with a woman who was posting a letter.
"When she heard where we had been, she started quoting from In The Willow Gardens, a poem by Causley. And she said she worked in Causley's old classroom.
"It was at that moment I decided the biography had to be written because Causley is an immensely popular poet enjoyed by a huge number of people.
"I started the research in Trusham and spent whole days reading Causley's diaries at Exeter University. I interviewed his friends and ex-pupils and eventually the book was written."
He said he received help from numerous people who were united by a common love of Causley's work.
"Most people were overwhelmingly helpful and encouraging," he said. "The whole researching, interviewing and writing process was a complete pleasure and the biggest revelation was Mr C's sometimes delightfully improper sense of humour, which he kept in check for most of the time.
"I love Causley's poetry and will always regret that I never met him."
All Cornwall Thunders At My Door by Laurence Green is published by The Cornovia Press at £10.99. Charles Causley: Theatre Works edited by Alan M Kent is published by Francis Boutle at £14.99. Charles Causley: A Universal Poet by Malcolm Wright is published jointly by Friends of Lawrence House Museum and The Charles Causley Society at £4 and is available at Lawrence House Museum in Launceston.