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ISBN 978-1-909585-30-0
 first published October 2019; 60 pp
paperback with endpapers; 198 x 129 mm

click here to read a pdf excerpt.
Born in South London in 1937, Paul Bailey won a scholarship to the Central School of Speech and Drama in 1953 and later worked as an actor. His novels include At the Jerusalem (1967; reissued 2019) and, most recently, Chapman’s Odyssey (2011) and The Prince’s Boy (2014). Peter Smart’s Confessions (1977) and Gabriel’s Lament (1986) were both shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His other work has included an ‘alternative biography’ of Fred Barnes, Naomi Jacob and Arthur Marshall (Three Queer Lives); books about Quentin Crisp and Cynthia Payne; two volumes of memoirs; and plays for radio and television.
Paul Bailey, Inheritance
Some people are sustained by sorrow.
I think I’m one of them.
That’s why I laugh so much.
That’s why I’m called a clown.
And that’s the deep dark reason why
I am accounted frivolous. 

In his first collection of poetry after a career as a novelist spanning five decades, Paul Bailey offers in Inheritance an intimate reckoning. The poems mine memories of childhood, illness and lost loves with unflinching honesty, a generous humour born of self-knowledge, and great depth of feeling.


‘Unsentimental, funny, affectionate, deeply moving, the poems read almost off-the-cuff but work at levels of exactness, kindness and observation that throw open a whole closed century of English class-shift and time-shift, in a loving and piercing evocation of family, childhood, love, loss, sangfroid, survival, and with a celebration of all openness, especially openness to our losses and mortalities. Inheritance is quite an inheritance: a slim, calm volume whose resonance is huge.’
     – Ali Smith, New Statesman 'Books of the Year

‘... these disinctions are caught, beautifully and unexpectedly, in novelist Paul Bailey's first collection of poems, Inheritance, about age and self-consciousness, in which the shedding of one literary skin reveals another.’
     – Will Eaves, Observer ‘Best Books of 2019’

Inheritance is a collection to engage not only the reader who knows all about contemporary poetry and probably writes it, but everyone who appreciates elegant craft, shapely storytelling and delicate love lyrics, with a touch of acerbic mischief to offset melancholy and no “poetic” pretentiousness whatever.

     Carol Rumens, Guardian

‘Bailey writes exquisitely about everything he touches on.’ 

Sunday Times