Fleur Adcock Biography

Fleur Adcock, a New Zealand writer, has become one of the most influential poets in Britain over the past three decades. Born in New Zealand, she moved to England at a young age and received her education there before returning to her homeland. Initially working as a teacher and librarian, Adcock eventually made the decision to permanently relocate to Britain and pursue a career in writing. She made her literary debut with the collection of poems titled ‘Eye of the Hurricane’ and has since produced numerous captivating collections. Adcock’s poetry explores themes of belonging and life in Britain, showcasing her technical precision and captivating readers with her ironic and sarcastic tone. She has also edited and translated various books throughout her career. Known for her ability to experiment with different voices and speakers, Adcock’s work delves into the unconscious and combines inwardness with tangible impressions, solidifying her position as one of Britain’s leading poets.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Kareen Fleur Adcock
  • Age: 89 Years, 89 Year Old Females
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Alistair Campbell, Barry Crump
    • Father: Cyril John Adcock
    • Mother: Irene Robinson Adcock
    • Siblings: Marilyn Duckworth
  • Poets
  • New Zealand Women
  • Education: Victoria University Of Wellington

Childhood & Early Life

Fleur Adcock was born as Kareen Fleur Adcock on February 10, 1934, in Auckland, New Zealand. Her parents were Cyril John Adcock and Irene Robinson Adcock, both of whom were writers. Fleur has a sister named Marilyn Duckworth, who is also a writer. In 1939, her family moved to England where she spent most of her childhood. After World War II, her family returned to New Zealand in 1947. She studied Classics at Victoria University in Wellington, where she obtained her graduate degree and completed her post-graduation in 1956.


Fleur Adcock started her career as an assistant lecturer in classics at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. She also served as the assistant librarian until 1961. She then moved to Wellington to work in the Alexander Turnbull Library. In 1963, she moved to England and took up a post as an assistant librarian at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. She also took two creative writing fellowships in the UK. In 1964, her first poetry collection titled ‘Eye of the Hurricane’ was published in New Zealand. Since then, she has written many collections of poetry, observing the world with a quiet incisiveness. She has also worked as a freelance writer, producing her own poetry and translating and editing collections. In addition to writing, she became a commentator on poetry for the British Broadcasting Corporation and served as a translator of medieval-Latin and twentieth-century Romanian poetry. She has also edited several works, including ‘The Oxford Book of Contemporary New Zealand Poetry’, ‘Faber Book of 20th Century Women’s Poetry’, and ‘The Oxford Book of Creatures’.

Awards & Achievements

Throughout her career, Fleur Adcock has received numerous awards and recognition for her contributions to literature. In 1964, she was conferred with the New Zealand State Literary Fund Award. She received the Jessie Mackay Prize twice, in 1968 and 1972, and the Buckland Award twice, in 1968 and 1979. In 1976, she was awarded the Cholmondeley Award by the Society of Authors in the United Kingdom. In 1984, she became a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 1996, she was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. In 2006, she was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in the United Kingdom. In 2008, she was conferred with the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to literature.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1952, Fleur Adcock married Alistair Campbell, also a poet, whom she met in Victoria. They had two sons, Gregory and Andrew, but the couple divorced in 1958. In 1962, she married Barry Crump, a writer, but the marriage lasted for only a year as they got divorced in 1963. Subsequently, she moved from New Zealand to England with her five-year-old son Andrew, leaving Gregory with his father.

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