Ignatius Royston Dunnachie Campbell, better known as Roy Campbell, (October 2, 1901 –April 22, 1957) was an Anglo-African poet and satirist. He was considered by T. S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas and Edith Sitwell to have been one of the best poets of the period between World War I and II. Campbell's vocal attacks upon the Marxism and Freudianism popular among the British intelligentsia caused him to be a controversial figure during his own lifetime.
While living in a small converted stable on the coast of North Wales, Campbell completed his first long poem, The Flaming Terrapin, a humanistic allegory of the rejuvenation of man projected in episodes. The Flaming Terrapin had established his reputation as a rising star. Returning to South Africa in 1925, he started Voorslag, a literary magazine with the ambition to serve as a "whiplash" (the meaning of the Afrikaans word voorslag) on South African colonial society, which he considered backwards and inbred. Campbell lasted as the magazine's editor for three issues but then resigned because of interference from the magazine's proprietor, Lewis Reynolds.
Campbell's conversion to Catholicism inspired him to write what some consider being the finest spiritual verse of his generation. Campbell's translations of the Catholic mystical poetry by St. John of the Cross were lavishly praised by Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, who considered them, in some ways, superior to the original Spanish. Campbell also wrote travel guides and children's literature. He began translating poetry from languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, and French. Among the poets he translated were Francisco de Quevedo, Fernando Pessoa, Manuel Bandeira and Ruben Dario. Some of Campbell's translations of the symbolist verse of Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud have appeared in modern anthologies.
Roy Campbell died in a car accident near Setúbal, Portugal, on Easter Monday, 1957 when a car driven by his wife hit a tree. At the time of his death, he was working upon translations of 16th and 17th century Spanish plays. Although only the rough drafts were completed, Campbell's work was posthumously edited for publication by Eric Bentley.
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Originally laid in Collected Poems by Roy Campbell.
PR6005 A418 A6 1949 v.1 Accession number 1049.
Preferred Citation:Name of the Collection, Washington University Libraries, Department of Special Collections