A Double Sorrow

Faber & Faber March 2014

The Casual Perfect

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Questions of Travel

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….and one brilliant melange – the poet Lavinia Greenlaw annotating a selection from William Morris’s tour of Iceland. This is formally the most adventurous, with Morris’s text on the recto page, and Greenlaw’s poetic reshapings and interpolations on the verso. It makes the reader dance a kind of duet over the pages, watching how Greenlaw has adapted and inverted the already fascinating account of the Pre-Raphaelite painter’s rather charmingly bumbling trip.

Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman

The Importance of Music to Girls

That Lavinia Greenlaw has chosen to tell the story of her life through the moments musicaux that meant the most to her is excellent news…Greenlaw’s prose is so beautiful, careful and quotable that she hardly needs to insert the words of other great minds, yet we have everyone from Musil to Roth to Homer and Hogarth contributing their thoughts on the great heritage of musical feeling that has been passed down to us. This is not just a book about that heritage, or about the author’s life, but perhaps the loveliest hymn to St Cecilia that this century has yet produced.

Melissa Katsoulis, Sunday Telegraph

Whether then, now or in the future, each generation has and will have an (often chaotic) set list of their own making, tunes that define a moment, sounds that last a lifetime. In this tender memoir, Lavinia Greenlaw builds on that assertion, creating a body of work that plays out as sweetly as any finely tuned mixed tape. Honest, melancholy and at times totally random, Greenlaw’s musical musings, from the playground chants of her formative years to the Donny Osmond obsession of her teens, provide a touching canvas from a pre-digital age. From the growing pains of early childhood through to her self-reflective teens, Greenlaw’s sharp observations on the various rites of passage, seen through the sounds she hears and the musical influences she is privy to, are richly imagined yet instantly recognisable.

Anna Millar, Scotland on Sunday

An Irresponsible Age

A funny, moving and wholly involving account of people struggling belatedly to grow up and take charge of their lives.
Peter Parker, TLS

Greenlaw has already established herself has a significant force in British poetry. This novel seems certain to confirm her developing reputation as a writer of lively, intelligent and well-crafted fiction.
The Guardian

A piece of ice in the eye, chilling and disturbing, a beautiful portrait of ordinary unhappiness at its best.
Irish Times

There is a deep sense of imminent reckoning pervading this subtle and intriguing novel; an unspoken understanding that the irresponsibility – personal and political – must come to an end.

It is hard not to compare this novel with The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen’s novel about family life at the end of the twentieth century … sensuous and richly descriptive.”
Literary Review


Greenlaw manages both to show the unimportance of human feeling in this setting and to make its intensity present.
Her studies of colour, light, water, ice and distance are fascinating…
Sean O’Brien, Sunday Times

… the bleakness in her memories and seascapes comes across less as an eccentric extreme than as the way the world really moves, or rather the way it does not move, blue and static in its shining ice.
Stephen Burt, TLS

… the sensuous of her thought and her ability to move between the abstract and the precisely observed remain as potent as ever.
William Wotton, The Guardian

Thoughts of a Night Sea

Merrell 2003

Mary George of Allnorthover

Flamingo 2001

“With perceptiveness and verve, Lavinia Greenlaw charts the travails of a spunky new heroine, Mary George, caught in the treacheries and stagnancy of an English backwater in the 1970s.
Edna O’Brien

“… the perfect setting for Greenlaw to display her natural talent for creating a sense of simmering insurrection and then holding it on a razor’s edge … This is a terrific first novel, a meteorological force in its own right.”
Marina Benjamin, The Evening Standard

“A poet’s eye clearly informs Greenlaw’s beautifully observed portrait of Seventies provincial life. In prose layered like paint, Greenlaw conjures up the period through details – petrol shortages, power cuts, particular sweets and music, the regulation mini-bottles of warm school milk – that will strike endless chords with readers who grew up at that time. Greenlaw’s nostalgia is palpable, but it is never sentimental, nor is her portrait of the eccentric but loveable Mary George – a genuinely original heroine. This is a suggestive, elusive novel, which achieves a magical effect by the gradual accumulation of images. But this outstanding debut does not lack immediacy or drama: its climax is a brutal murder.”
Katie Owen, Vogue

A World Where News Travelled Slowly

Faber & Faber 1997

The central theme of Greenlaw’s second collection is the unpredictable act of communication, from the mechanical to the miraculous. Other poems are concerned with attempts at preservation – plundered relics, the stately home, an iron lung.

The title poem won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 1998.

Greenlaw’s control is formidable; in this volume there is scarcely a line or stress out of place.
Elizabeth Lowry, TLS

“Anxiety, love, desire and guilt pulse through her language … I hope ours is a world in which news of this book travels fast.”
Maggie O’Farrell, Independent on Sunday

“This is a beautiful, intelligent, often sexy book that never shows off; it appreciates with each re-reading.”
Robert Potts, The Guardian

Night Photograph

Faber & Faber 1993

Galileo’s wife, a woman dying of radium poisoning, the first dog in space, a strangely obsessed pianist, an early beneficiary of plastic surgery and a Russian boy whose adventures are limited by the immature powers of his inventor, are among the characters featured in this collection of poetry.

Shortlisted for the Whitbread and Forward Poetry Prizes.

“Her work is immediately striking for its interest in science, and more lingeringly memorable for the way it combines an excited way of thinking with a calm way of looking.”
Andrew Motion, The Observer

“… everything Greenlaw touches glitters and resonates, her discipline and skill allowing her to be serious, soulful, knockabout, funny and downright strange in the course of a few lines.”
Glyn Maxwell, Vogue

“Her talent is undeniable and suggests that there is much to look forward to.”
Robert Potts, TL

Signs and Humours

The Poetry of Medicine.