Michael Standen

Novelist and poet

Michael Standen was an integral park of the literary scene of the North East.

He was born near London in 1937 and, as he once said, after that moved steadily northwards. Following school at Nottingham, he did his national service, then read English at Cambridge. In 1961, newly married, he began teaching in Manchester, and three years later was appointed to a post as Tutor Oragniser for the Northern District of the Workers Educational Association (WEA).

His first novel, Start Somewhere (1965), rightly brought him a number of highly favourable reviews.

Then came A Sane and Able Man (1966), Stick-man and The Dreamland Tree (1972). Unfortunately, none of these was able to repeat the success of his first novel.

In 1977, OUP published his novel for younger readers Over the Wet Lawn (1977), reckoned by some astute judges to be among the best fictions ever written for that age group; but apart from Months and Other Stories (1994), Standen’s career as a prose writer had ended.

Poetry, however, brought him new readers. He had been runner-up to Seamus Heaney for the 1966 Cheltenham Literature Festival’s poetry prize.

His first full collection, Time’s Fly-Past, was published in 1991. Then came Gifts of Egypt and this was followed by Leaves at Midnight: new and selected poems.

But respect and affection for Mick was by no means confined to writers. A lifelong socialist whose care for the environment was partly reflected in the tending of an allotment he and Val shared, he continued to teach for the WEA well after retirement, and his undoctrinaire passion for literature he unfailingly attracted to his classes students of all ages and dispositions.

Latterly, he took up painting in watercolours. Mick produced detailed and evocative sketches of some of the [Greek] island’s architectural treasures.

Michael Standen, writer and poet: born Epsom, Surrey 28 July 1937; married 1961 Val Healey (two sons); died Durham 1 June 2008.”

– John Lucas, The Guardian (extracts from)

In 1991, Flambard bought out Times Fly Past, which one reviewer praised for its ability to handle scenes political, domestic and emotional with an unsentimental approach which reveals deep feelings but does not exploit them.

Standen’s Shoestring collection Gifts of Egypt, published in 2002, quickly sold out.

In Leaves at Midnight, Standen brings together a generous selection from the above two volumes and adds a substantial number of new poems sure to delight his many admirers.

Books by Shoestring Press:

Leaves at Midnight

Start Somwhere