Simple Annals: A Memoir of Early Childhood by Roy Watkins - review by Bernard O'Donoghue

Bernard O'Donoghue

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Boy

Simple Annals: A Memoir of Early Childhood


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In Introduction 3: Stories by New Writers (1967), Faber published Roy Watkins along with four other newcomers (including Christopher Hampton); Ted Hughes singled out Watkins’s stories for praise. Watkins was born in Southport, Lancashire, in 1939 and, after spending the early war years with his Welsh grandparents in Liverpool, was brought back to Southport by his mother to escape the Blitz. He spent many years writing and teaching, both in the US and Britain, before moving with his wife to Wales, where they founded Embers Handpress, publishing books of poetry and translation by hand. After retiring in 2014, he moved to northern France, where he now lives.

The part of this life story after 1950 is strictly irrelevant to this remarkable memoir because, as Watkins tells us in the afterword, the book draws exclusively on experiences and perceptions he had between the ages of two and eleven, when he was living in Southport. The memoir of the

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