Carol Ann Duffy is a Scottish-Irish poet, born on 23rd December 1955 in Gorbals, Glasgow. The family moved to England when Duffy was six years old. She attended Saint Austin’s RC Primary School, went on to Joseph’s Convent School and then Stafford Girl’s High School. Her writing talent was recognized by some of her teachers. She was a keen reader and writer of poems from an early age. At age 15 one of her teachers, June Scriven sent Duffy’s poems to a publisher, who was impressed by them and thus published them. She started a relationship with the poet Adrian Henri, living with him till 1982. To be closer to him, Duffy enrolled in the University of Liverpool. During this time she wrote two plays and a pamphlet named ‘Fifth Last Song’. She received her degree in philosophy in 1977.
She rose to fame in the UK after winning Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition (1983) for her poem ‘Whoever She was’. Carol Ann Duffy is the first female poet to be appointed to the position of poet laureate. She wrote a poem after becoming poet laureate regarding a scandal faced by the British MPs expenses. Her second poem was called ‘Last Post’ and it was used by BBC to commemorate the last two British soldiers to have fought in the First World War; namely Henry Allingham and Harry Patch. ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas 2009’ was her third poem in which she tackles various issues such as extinction of species, the conference held in Copenhagen regarding climate change, the crisis in the banking sector and the Afghanistan War. Duffy’s poem ‘Achilles’ was written for the footballer David Beckham, after he could not participate in the FIFA world cup of 2010. The poem described the modern day celebrity culture as a ‘mythicisation’. She also gifted her poem ‘Rings’ to Prince William and Catherine Middleton for their wedding in 2011.
As a Playwright Duffy wrote several plays including ‘Take My Husband’ (1982), ‘Cavern of Dreams’ (1984), ‘Little Women, Big Boys’ (1986), ‘Loss’ (1986) and ‘Casanova’ (2007). She has also written poetry for children such as ‘Meeting Midnight’ (1999) and ‘The Oldest Girl in the World’ (2000). Her recent children’s’ books also include ‘The Lost Happy Endings’ (2006), ‘The Tear Thief’ (2007) and ‘The Princess Blankets’ (2009).
Her collection of poems titled ‘Standing Female Nude’ published in 1985 received the ‘Scottish Arts Council Award’. ‘Selling Manhattan’ (1987) won the ‘Somerset Maugham Award’ and ‘Mean Time’ published in 1993 was awarded the ‘Whitbread Poetry Award’. ‘Rapture’, her 2005 offering got the ‘T.S Elliot Prize’. Her poems deal with many social issues like gender, violence and tyranny making them popular for studying in schools in the GCSE, O and A levels courses.
She has won many other awards and honors such as ‘Costa Poetry Award’ (2011), ‘Signal Poetry Award’ (1997), ‘CBE’ (2001), ‘Cholmondeley Award’ (1992), ‘Dylan Thomas Award’ (1989), ‘Eric Gregory Award’ (1984) and the ‘C. Day Lewis Fellowship’ in 1982. Duffy also received doctorate degree from the University of Hull, University of Dundee, University of St. Andrews, University of Warwick including a Fellowship from Homerton College, Cambridge.