John Masefield was the UK’s Poet Laureate – a post inaugurated in 1686 by Charles II but with roots earlier that century – from 1930 until his death in 1967. Only Alfred, Lord Tennyson held the post for longer.
In his youth, he spent time training and sailing on HMS Conway (about which he wrote) despite a passion for reading and writing. As a result, maritime themes thread through his prose and poetry. His most loved poem Sea Fever has been set to music numerous times, drawn from his first published collection Salt Water Ballads (1902). He also wrote frequently for children, the best known books being The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights.
He was a prolific and dedicated writer, with his last anthology, In Glad Thanksgiving, published in 1966 when he was 88.