Anthony Edkins obituary

Other lives: Poet, translator and part-time lecturer

My father, Anthony Edkins, who has died aged 91, was a translator, poet, and part-time lecturer at King’s and University colleges in London. He published the first of his six books of poems, Worry Beads, in 1976, and continued to write well into his 90s.

Anthony was born in Timperley, Cheshire (now Greater Manchester), to Muriel (nee Ashman), a domestic science teacher, and Robert, a builders’ merchant. He went to Cotton college boarding school in Staffordshire and volunteered for the army in 1944 at the age of 17, joining the Royal Artillery Gunners.

During a period of leave he stayed with his uncle Jack in London and after he completed his service he returned to the capital to take up employment in a bank. There he met a colleague who invited him to ride pillion with him on his motorbike to Europe. Greatly taken with Spain, Anthony opted to stay on, finding a post as a nightwatchman at the British Embassy in Madrid. He then began teaching English in Ibiza, where he met my mother, Mary Ellen Ray, an American, who was pursuing an acting career.

They later returned to Britain. Eventually a stage was reached when her visa was about to run out. While standing on Waterloo bridge she said to Anthony: “Well, I guess that’s it, then.” He replied: “You could always marry me.” They wed in Madrid in 1955, where Anthony was working as a travel rep.

In 1956-57 Anthony took a job at the City Lights bookshop in San Francisco and then, on returning to the UK, as a rep for the travel firms Lord Brothers and later Horizon. In 1966 he and Mary Ellen moved to the US for three years, to allow my mother to follow her acting career; he was able to concentrate full-time on writing. From the early 70s he worked again in Britain for Horizon, until 1973, when he became a mature student at King’s College.

After a two-year separation, he and my mother divorced in 1974 and eventually he fell in love again, with a fellow poet, Soph Behrens, whom he met at a launch for an issue of Bananas magazine, in which they had both featured.

They spent a year together in Spain, but Soph was troubled and he nursed her through a recovery from an attempt to take her own life. Later she killed herself when they were no longer together.

Anthony graduated from King’s College in 1977 and then began to teach translation from Spanish into English at King’s and University colleges, retired in 2001 and continued writing poetry.

He is survived by his daughters, Sarah and me, two grandchildren and a brother, Vincent.

Lucy Edkins

The GuardianTramp

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