John Betjeman (1906-1984) is a unique figure in twentieth-century English poetry, enjoying a degree of fame and success unequaled by any poet since Byron. His Collected Poems of 1958 reputedly sold more than 100,000 copies, and they are read by millions of people who normally never read poetry, while he has become a household name through his many appearances on television panels and on programs about architecture. He is also quintessentially English, a pillar of the so-called establishment and he has, during a long and diverse career, accumulated several honorary doctorates, a CBE, and a knighthood before being created the Poet Laureate in 1972. Despite such public recognition (or perhaps partly because of it) Betjeman’s stature as a poet has remained singularly hard to assess. Some critics have always maintained that he is a poet of mediocre talents, a competent versifier whose adroit exploitation of the television medium in its early years enabled him to carve out for himself a reputation he does not deserve. (Adapted from: Clarke, John. “John Betjeman.” British Poets, 1914-1945, edited by Donald E. Stanford, Gale, 1983).