Duffy, Maureen

Maureen Duffy was born in 1933 in Worthing, Sussex. As well as being a poet, playwright and novelist, she has also published biographies of Aphra Behn and Henry Purcell.


After a tough childhood, Duffy took her degree in English from King’s College London. She went on to be a teacher from 1956 to 1961, and edited three editions of a poetry magazine called The Sixties. She then turned to writing full-time as a poet and playwright after being commissioned to produce a screenplay by Granada Television. In 1960 her play, Pearson, won the City of London Young Playwrights Award. She made her début as a novelist with That’s How It Was, published to wide acclaim in 1962. Her first openly gay novel was The Microcosm (1966), set in the famous Gateways Club in London. Among her later novels, Gor Saga was televised in 1988 in a mini-series called First Born, starring Charles Dance.

Her trilogy of novels: Wounds; Capital and Londoners provide historical fiction featuring London during the early period of Afro-Caribbean immigration; London from Neolithic times through tales of Saxon kings, and a version of Dante’s Inferno, canto by canto, through modern gay London. Her work has often used Freudian ideas and Greek myth as a framework. Duffy has published 31 books, including six volumes of poetry. She is also the author of 16 plays for stage, television and radio. Her Collected Poems, 1949-84 appeared in 1985 and her latest poetry publication Pictures From an Exhibition was published in 2015.


Duffy has also been active in a variety of groups representing the interest of writers. She is currently the President of the Authors Licensing and Copyright Society, and Vice President of the Royal Society of Literature. She took an active part during the debates around homosexual law reform, which culminated in the Act of 1967. In 1977 she published The Ballad of the Blasphemy Trial, against the trial of Gay News newspaper for ‘blasphemous libel’. She is deeply interested in issues around enforcing traditional forms of intellectual property law, and is President of the British Copyright Council, and a Fellow of King’s College London. She was made a D.Litt. by Loughborough University in 2011 for services to literature and equality law.

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