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Queen's Birthday Honours: Andrew Motion leads literary recipients

Story by Jack Foley

FORMER Poet Laureate Andrew Motion has been knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, which also recognised Christopher Ricks and Dr Elaine Morgan.

Motion received his knighthood for services to literature just weeks after his 10-year tenure of the Laureateship came to an end.

The writer published several volumes of poems, as well as biographies on John Keats and Philip Larkin, before he was made poet laureate in 1999, while his work as laureate included a poem for the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday in 2001.

He accepted his knighthood on behalf of “the parish of poetry” and said he was “absolutely thrilled and moved”.

Commenting on his initial reaction upon first being notified, he told the BBC: “I felt absolutely thrilled and moved at the same time, but part of my being moved by it was realising the people I most wanted to tell about it were my parents, who are both dead, so it has an elegiac feel.

“I feel very touched and gratified because these things are quite seldom given to poets, compared to other sections of the arts community.”

Another noted poet, Christopher Ricks, 75, is the outgoing professor of poetry at Oxford University, and a celebrated author and scholar of English literature. He is also to become a Sir.

During a long and distinguished career, Prof Ricks has written about Bob Dylan as well as various English poets including Milton, Keats and Tennyson.

His tenure as Oxford’s professor of poetry comes to an end in September.

Veteran writer Dr Elaine Morgan, meanwhile, is to be made a CBE for services to literature and to education. She said she was “so excited”.

The 88-year-old, who was born near Pontypridd and now lives in nearby Mountain Ash in Rhondda Cynon Taf, began her career as a TV dramatist in the ’50s, winning two BAFTA awards, before going on to pen the best-seller, The Descent of Woman.

She has also written five books about human evolution.

She told the BBC that she hoped her CBE would give her “credibility” in the science world, where she has been promoting her evolution theory that humans are descended from an ape ancestor.

Further honours

Delia Smith

Celebrity chef and author Delia Smith completes the literary honours with a CBE in recognition of her services to the food industry.

The 67-year-old TV personality and director of Norwich City Football Club has sold more than 21 million copies of her cook-books worldwide and has been writing recipes for 40 years.

She described the CBE as a “very, very great honour”, especially since she considers her vocation to be just like “everyday work”.

But she added: “It does feel special. It’s difficult for me because what I do – I write recipes and demonstrate them on TV – feels just like regular, everyday work. It doesn’t feel like it deserves any special honour.”

Yet such is Smith’s influence as both a TV and writer, that her various recommendations have started a national cranberry shortage in 1995, a rush for white eggs in 1999, for North Wales sea salt in 2000 and for prunes in 2002.

Smith began her career as a dishwasher at a restaurant in ’60s London before becoming a cookery writer for the Daily Mirror in 1969, where she met her husband, Michael Wynn Jones.

Her first recipe book, How to Cheat at Cooking, was published in 1971 and she began her TV career two years later with the BBC series Family Fare.

Smith, who already had an OBE, was born in Woking, Surrey, and grew up in Bexleyheath, Kent.

Christopher Lee knighted – read more