Hassall, Christopher Vernon

(1912-1963)
   London-born poet, biographer, playwright, and librettist, he entered Wadham College, Oxford, but owing to a family financial crisis had to leave without graduating. He formed a renowned musical partnership with the composer Ivor Novello. Christ's Comet, an Easter play, for which he also composed the music, was written for the 1938 Canterbury Cathedral Festival. The Player King was the Edinburgh Festival play of 1952. Out of the Whirlwind (1953) was the first secular play to be staged in Westminster Abbey since the Reformation. He also wrote the libretto for Sir William Walton's 1954 production of Troilus and Cressida. He died of a heart attack on a train and was buried at St. Nicholas church, Harbledown, Kent. His awards: the Hawthornden prize, for the poem Penthesperon, 1938; the A.C. Benson medal for Crisis, a sonnet sequence, 1939; and the James Tait Black memorial prize, for the biography Edward Marsh: Patron of the Arts, 1959. Some of his other publications: The Slow Night, 1949. The Red Leaf, 1957. Bell Harry, and Other Poems, 1963 (a sequence of forty sonnets in memory of his friend, the poet Frances Crofts Cornford, see entry).
   Sources: Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition 1.1. Oxford University Press, 1997. The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry. 11th ed. The Columbia Granger's World of Poetry, Columbia University Press, 2005 (http://www.columbiagrangers.org). The Oxford Book of Twentieth-Century English Verse. Philip Larkin, ed. Oxford University Press, 1973. The Oxford Companion to English Literature. 6th edition. Margaret Drabble, ed. Oxford University Press, 2000.

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

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