Am­bling through au­tumn

An at­mo­spheric walk around the lovely Slad Val­ley in the foot­steps of the poet Frances Horovitz

Cotswold Life - - COTSWOLD SOCIETY -

Frances Horovitz was a poet, broad­caster and per­former of po­etry who made her home in the Slad Val­ley im­mor­talised by Lau­rie Lee in Cider with Rosie, and part of a sig­nif­i­cant lit­er­ary pres­ence that still con­tin­ues there to this day. Af­ter grow­ing up in post-war Waltham­stow, Frances es­caped to Bris­tol, where she stud­ied English and Drama – meet­ing Henry Woolf and Harold Pin­ter. From there, she went to RADA – in the same year as the late great John Hurt – where she de­vel­oped her beau­ti­ful read­ing voice. It is said that she ‘pos­sess[ed] a rare abil­ity to hear a poem and be­come its voice.’ While in study­ing in Lon­don she met her fu­ture hus­band, Michael Horovitz in 1960, and they mar­ried in 1964. She started to record po­etry for BBC ra­dio (work­ing with pro­ducer Ge­orge Mac­beth) and be­gan to write her own. Bris­tol was the hub of the Beeb’s po­etry out­put (as it re­mains to this day), so the Horovitzs’ moved out of Lon­don to the area af­ter be­ing at­tracted by an en­tic­ing ad­vert: ‘Cotswold cot­tage go­ing for a song’. Here she made her home and it re­mains in the fam­ily to this day. She pub­lished four col­lec­tions of po­ems, in­clud­ing Wa­ter Over Stone (Enithar­mon Press, 1980) and Snow Light, Wa­ter Light (Blood­axe Books, 1983). She died in 1983, aged 45, af­ter a long ill­ness. She is sur­vived by her son Adam Horovitz, an ac­com­plished poet in his own right. Much loved and missed, she is held in high re­gard by bards the ilk of Carol Ann Duffy and Gil­lian Clarke. The poet and critic Peter Levi de­scribed Frances’ po­etry as hav­ing ‘per­fect rhythm, great del­i­cacy and a rather Chi­nese yet very lo­cally Bri­tish sense of land­scape.’ This can be ex­pe­ri­enced by read­ing her po­etry out loud, es­pe­cially in situ – so if you can lo­cate a copy of her Col­lected Po­ems (edited by her sec­ond hus­band, Roger Garf­fitt) bring one along to read out. The ef­fect can be spine-tin­gling and one is re­minded that the lovely Slad Val­ley is sat­u­rated in the words, art and mem­o­ries of many cre­ative souls.

Above: Frances Horovitz, by Ke­van Man­war­ing

Be­low: Pied­mont Bot­tom: The claggy lane from the Dil­lay

Lau­rie Lee post, and view across Slad

King Charles Lane, Slad Val­ley

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