Alvarez, poetry critic and best-selling author, dies at 90
Alfred Alvarez, a critic and author with a non-literary streak who helped shape the modern poetry canon in his native England, explored everything from oil digging to poker and wrote a best-selling history of suicide bracketed by his attempt on his own life and the death of his friend Sylvia Plath, has died. He was 90.
Alvarez died Monday in London of pneumonia, according to his literary representatives, Aitken Alexander Associates.
Writing alternately as A. Alvarez or Al Alvarez, he had a long, productive and controversial career. He began as a highly influential critic, who as poetry editor of the Observer, was an early champion of Plath, her then-husband Ted Hughes, John Berryman and others he believed would enliven contemporary poetry. He would go on to write novels and poems and to complete nonfiction books about life “beyond the fiddle” of the book world, whether rock climbing (“Feeding the Rat”), swimming (“Pondlife”), the search for oil in the North Sea (“Offshore”) or poker (“The Biggest Game In Town”).