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Research Seminar The Life (not) Written: Poetry vs Autobiography in the work of Frances Bellerby

Dr Kym Martindale

21 January 2009
15.30 hrs – 16.55 hrs
Conference Room,


Frances Bellerby (1899-1973) was one of many women of her generation for whom the effects of WWI were far-reaching and ongoing, resulting eventually in the loss of her entire family. This loss was compounded by illness and disability in the previously athletic Bellerby's adult life, both events serving to mark off her childhood and adolescence as intensely idyllic. Bellerby recounts in letters her attempts to write an autobiography, noting repeatedly how profoundly painful such a narrative is, and one critic has argued that is in her poetry that Bellerby finally succeeds in writing her life. This is due in part to the manner in which the poem is able to negotiate time, and evade narrative. I will argue further, that in the poetry, Bellerby seeks to cancel the life she actually lives, to construct a life beyond that is not bound by the corporeal.

Dr Kym Martindale
began at University College Falmouth in September 2003. She is part of the course team for English with Media Studies, but also teaches on the English with Creative Writing degree.

Before coming to University College Falmouth, Kym taught on the English programme for the Open University, while also teaching English and Creative Writing at Bath Spa University College, and on the Creative Writing Diploma for the Continuing Education Department at Bristol University. She has taught with Philip Gross and Tim Liardet, both highly acclaimed poets.

Prior to that, she gained her doctorate in literary theory at the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham in 2001, and the previous year, published a small volume of poetry with Redbeck Press. In 2004, she was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship and spent a month in Scotland at the Hawthornden International Writers Retreat. In 2005, Flying Women Films produced a film for the Yorkshire Arts Festival, based on one of her short stories published years ago by Onlywomen Press, The Pied Piper.

Kym is currently working on a collection of poems which reflect on the divisions between art and science, with a particular interest in the developments in the seventeenth century. Her other interests include running, kayaking and cycling.