Frank Kermode  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Sir John Frank Kermode (29 November 1919 - 17 August 2010) was a British literary critic.

Frank Kermode was born on the Isle of Man, and was educated at Douglas High School and Liverpool University. He served in the Royal Navy during World War II, for six years in total, much of it in Iceland.

He subsequently pursued an academic career, becoming in 1974 King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at Cambridge University. He resigned the post in 1982, at least in part because of the acrimonious tenure debate surrounding Colin MacCabe. He then moved to Columbia University, where he is now Julian Clarence Levi Professor Emeritus in the Humanities.

He is known for many works of criticism; and also as editor of the popular Fontana Modern Masters series of introductions to individual modern thinkers.

He was the Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College, London (1967-74), before moving to Cambridge. Under Frank Kermode, the UCL English Department chaired a series of graduate seminars which broke new ground by introducing for the first time contemporary French critical theory to Britain.

He was knighted in 1991.

He is not related to British film critic Mark Kermode.


  • English Pastoral Poetry from the Beginnings to Marvell (1952) editor
  • The Tempest (1954) editor
  • Seventeenth Century Songs, Now First Printed from a Bodleian Manuscript (1956) with John P. Cutts
  • John Donne (1957)
  • The Romantic Image (1957)
  • The Living Milton (1960) editor, essays
  • Wallace Stevens (1961)
  • Puzzles And Epiphanies, Essays And Reviews 1958-1961 (1962)
  • Discussions of John Donne (1962) editor
  • Spenser and the Allegorists (1962)
  • The Patience of Shakespeare (1964)
  • The Integrity of Yeats (1964) with Denis Donoghue, Norman Jeffares, T. R. Henn
  • Spenser (1965) editor
  • On Shakespeare's Learning (1965)
  • Four Centuries of Shakespearian Criticism (1965)
  • Shakespeare: The Final Plays (1965)
  • The Humanities and the Understanding of Reality (1966) with Monroe C., Beardsley, Barry Bingham, Northrop Frye
  • The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction (1967) revised 2003
  • The Selected Poetry of Marvell (1967) editor
  • Continuities (1968)
  • King Lear; a Casebook (1969) editor
  • The Metaphysical Poets (1969)
  • On Poetry and Poets by T. S. Eliot (1969) editor
  • Modern Essays (1970)
  • Shakespeare, Spenser, Donne: Renaissance Essays (1971)
  • The Oxford Reader:Varieties of Contemporary Discourse (1971) with Richard Poirier
  • The Oxford Anthology of English Literature: The Middle Ages Through the 18th Century (1973) editor with John Hollander, two volumes
  • D. H. Lawrence (1973)
  • English Renaissance Literature, Introductory Lectures (1974) with Stephen Fender and Kenneth Palmer
  • The Classic: literary images of permanence and change (1975)
  • Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot (1975) editor
  • The Genesis of Secrecy: on the Interpretation of Narrative (1979) Charles Eliot Norton Lectures
  • The Poems Of John Donne (1979)
  • The Art of Telling: Essays on Fiction (1983).
  • William Wordsworth (1984) editor
  • Forms of Attention (1985)
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1985)
  • The Literary Guide to the Bible (1987) with Robert Alter
  • History and Value (1988) Clarendon Lectures and Northcliffe Lectures 1987
  • An Appetite for Poetry. Essays in Literary Interpretation (1989)
  • Collected Poetry and Prose of Wallace Stevens (1989) editor with Joan Richardson
  • Andrew Marvell (1990) editor with Keith Walker
  • Poetry, Narrative, History (1990)
  • The Uses of Error (1991) essays
  • An Unmentionable Man (Enitharmon Press 1994) with Edward Upward
  • Not Entitled (1995) memoir
  • Francis Bacon (1996)
  • A Reader's Guide to the Twentieth-Century Writers (1996) editor with Peter Parker
  • Oxford Book of Letters (1996) editor with Anita Kermode
  • The Mind Has Mountains (1999) editor with Anthony Holden
  • Edward Upward: A Bibliography 1920-2000 (Enitharmon Press, 2000) with Alan Walker
  • Shakespeare's Language (2000)
  • Pleasing Myself : from Beowolf to Philip Roth (2002)
  • Pieces of My Mind: Writings 1958-2002 (2003) essays
  • The Age of Shakespeare (2004)
  • Life.After.Theory (2004) with Jacques Derrida, Toril Moi and Christopher Norris
  • Pleasure, Change, and Canon (2004) with Robert Alter


  • Margaret Tudeau-Clayton and Martin Warner, editors (1991) Addressing Frank Kermode. Essays in Criticism and Interpretation
  • Christopher J. Knight (2003) Uncommon Readers : Denis Donoghue, Frank Kermode, George Steiner, and the Tradition of the Common Reader

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