Peter Scupham, poet, bookseller and fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, died June 11, the Bookseller reported. He was 89. Scupham published more than 10 collections of poetry in his lifetime as well as founding the Mandeville Press with John Mole. He also ran Mermaid Books, a second-hand book business in Norfolk. He received a Cholmondeley Award in 1996.
Carcanet published Scupham's Collected Poems this year as well as Borrowed Landscapes in 2011. His final collection, Invitation to View, is forthcoming next month. Carcanet noted: "It was with relief that we delivered finished copies of the new book to him shortly before his death."
Michael Schmidt, founder and managing director of Carcanet Press, said Scupham "is a poet I loved almost from my arrival in the U.K. He was a superlative second-hand bookseller whose Mermaid Books catalogues are harmonies of erudition and hilarity and whose prices were always within my range. His envelopes he often decorated with drawings that added to the merriment of his correspondence. The garden of the Old Hall that he and Margaret Stewart restored was a gathering-place for poets, with summer Shakespeare performances and a permanent welcome."
Scupham was first published by Peterloo Poets and then by Oxford University Press. Schmidt said that when Carcanet took over the OUP poetry list, Scupham "became formally ours. He was already a central figure in our magazine PN Review, to which he contributed from our very first issue in 1973 and to which he continued contributing until yesterday, as it were. We celebrated his work as a poet, bookseller and eccentric Englishman on his 85th birthday in 2018 with a special supplement. He and his friend John Mole were proper, inky-fingered publishers, with letterpress and hand-stitching, and their Mandeville Press produced handsome and significant pamphlets and the legendary Dragon Cards.
"Few poets in my experience are as generous, as cheerful and as formally inventive and accomplished as Peter. As he lay preparing for death, I asked him to record some of his new poems, from his last book Invitation to View. He roused himself and with his usual smiling precision of voice read them. Margaret recorded them for all time on her telephone and they will soon be shared with the world, along with a fine tribute by John Mole."
Schmidt added: "Peter's death is a great loss for all at Carcanet, and the poetry community at large. He will be remembered for his poetic energy and trademark wit, which were bright until the end."