In the Blood is Andrew Motion's beautifully written memoir of growing up in post-war England - an unforgettable evocation of family life, school life and country life. It also tells the story of how these worlds are shattered, when his mother suffers a terrible riding accident.
The tragedy shadows the book, feeding its mood of elegy as well as its celebratory vigilance. Written from a teenage child's point of view, without the benefit of adult hindsight, Motion captures the pathos and puzzlement of childhood with great clarity of expression and freshness of memory. We encounter a strange but beguiling extended family, a profound love of the natural world, a troubled schooling, and a growing passion for books and writing.
By turns funny and elegiac, In the Blood is a wonderful picture of a vanishing England, a remarkable insight into a poet's mind, and a deeply moving portrait of the bond between a mother and her son.
Andrew Motion was Poet Laureate from 1999 to 2009; he is Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway College, University of London, and co-founder of the online Poetry Archive. He has received numerous awards for his poetry, and has published four celebrated biographies. His group study The Lamberts won the Somerset Maugham Award and his authorised life of Philip Larkin won the Whitbread Prize for Biography. Andrew Motion's novella The Invention of Dr Cake (2003) was described as 'amazingly clever' by the Irish Times and praised for 'brilliant and almost hallucinatory vividness' by the Sunday Telegraph. His memoir, In the Blood (2006), was described as 'the most moving and exquisitely written account of childhood loss I have ever read' in the Independent on Sunday. His most recent collection of poems is The Customs House (2012). Andrew Motion was knighted for his services to poetry in 2009. In 2014 he received the Wilfred Owen Poetry Award.