Literature Links to Ledbury – John Masefield

John Masefield was English poet, writer, and Poet Laureate (a title he held for 37 years, until death) born in Ledbury on 1st June 1878. The poet died 12th May 1967, but his memory thrives through John Masefield High School in Ledbury, named in his honour.

Although he boarded at Warwick School (then called King’s School), he left to train at sea and did plenty of reading and writing on the waves, creating a recount of his ship life called ‘New Chum’.  Despite spending many years travelling and working in New York (apparently buying around 20 books per week!), he eventually returned to England. In 1902, he released his first publish titled ‘Salt-Water Ballads’. During the First World War, he was exempt from military service but worked in a French hospital for soldiers before eventually travelling to America. There, he researched people’s opinions of the war, and wrote ‘Gallipoli’.

In 1930, he was awarded the Poet Laureate by King George V after being recommended by the Prime Minister, and held this honour until his death over 30 years later. Additionally, the King awarded him with the Order of Merit, as well as being made President of the Society of Authors.

Ledbury Poetry Festival celebrates John Masefield in an event with Philip W Errington on Thursday 6th July. Book tickets HERE What’s On – Ledbury Poetry


  • Salt-water Ballads by John Masefield (author), Philip W. Errington (editor) ISBN10- 1861741243     ISBN13- 978-1861741240
  • Sea-Fever. Selected Poems of John Masefield. Edited with an Introduction by Philip W. Errington ISBN10- 1857547624  ISBN13- 978-1857547627
  • Available from all good bookstores or on

Researched by Alice Drury

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