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Rare signed volume by Stafford-raised Poet Laureate set to come up for auction

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Auctioneer Ben Gamble with a rare, dedicated
copy of ‘Fleshweathercock and other poems’,
the first published work of Poet Laureate
Carol Ann Duffy, which is set to come under
the hammer at Staffordshire Auctioneers
and Valuers Cuttlestones’ Friday, 29th July
Specialist Collectors’ Sale.

A rare copy of the first ever published work by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, who was raised and educated in Stafford, is set to come under the hammer at Staffordshire auction house Cuttlestones on 29th July.

Entitled ‘Fleshweathercock and other poems’, the collection was published in 1973 when, at the age of 18, she was a pupil at Stafford High School for Girls. With no record of other examples of this work ever having come up for sale, this book undoubtedly represents a rare opportunity; however, what makes this copy even more special is its personal inscription, ‘For dear Martin with love Carol Ann’. The dedication was made by Carol-Ann to her teenage friend, Martin Griffiths, who is the book’s vendor.

MD and head auctioneer at Cuttlestones, Ben Gamble, says:

This really is an exceptional lot – as the current Poet Laureate, interest in Duffy’s work is bound to be high, and the fact that this is an incredibly rare example of her first ever published work will make it even more interesting. However, with the personalisation and the fact that the work has links to the author’s life when she was still resident in Stafford, we’re anticipating good local interest in addition to that from fans and poetry collectors further afield.”

Carol Ann Duffy was born in Glasgow in 1955 to an Irish mother and father of Irish extraction, Frank Duffy, who moved the family to Stafford when Carol Ann was five to take a job as a fitter with English Electric. The family, including Carol Ann’s four younger brothers, settled into town life and Frank became a well-known local figure thanks to his roles as a long-serving councillor in Stafford, an active shop steward at GEC, a Labour Party candidate in 1983 and as manager at Stafford Rangers FC in his spare time.

Carol Ann’s education spanned periods at several Stafford schools – from 1962 to 1967 she attended St Austin RC Primary School, from where she progressed to St Joseph’s Convent School from 1967 to 1970 and was actively encouraged to pursue her poetry by teacher June Scriven. At the age of 14 she decided that she was going to be a poet and, when she was 15, June Scriven typed up a collection of her poems and sent it to the publisher Outposts; the publishing house that would later print her first collection ‘Fleshweathercock and other poems’. Duffy completed her schooling at the Stafford High School for Girls where, between 1970 to 1974, she was further encouraged by her English teacher James Walker. In 1974 she went on to Liverpool University to read philosophy.

With her formal education behind her, Duffy went on to carve a career as one of Britain’s most celebrated modern poets, picking up numerous awards along the way. She was awarded the OBE in 1995 and, in 2005, was named Britain’s Poet Laureate; an appointment that made her the first woman, the first Scot and the first openly bisexual person to hold the coveted post.

The copy of Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Fleshweathercock and other poems’, signed and dedicated by the Poet Laureate herself, is set to be sold at Cuttlestones’ Auctioneers and Valuers Friday, 29th July Specialist Collectors’ Sale, with live online bidding available for those who can’t be there on the day. For further information visit or call 01785 714905.

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