Norman F Hidden (OH 1926-1932)
07/11/2012
Norman Frederick Hidden 1913-2006, Norman was born 24 October 1913 in Portsmouth. He was educated at St John's School, Porthcawl, Glamorgan from 1921-26 and in Hereford, at Hereford Cathedral School from 1926-32, where he became captain of football, vice-captain of cricket and a victor ludorum. He won a scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxford, which he attended from 1932-1936 and obtained an M.A. degree and a diploma in education.



His connection with the West Midlands began "in the most formative years of my life when I was a pupil at Hereford Cathedral School. My experiences at the school are recorded in the semi-autobiographical Dr. Kink, a literary experiment presenting a complex picture of a boy's love-hate relationship both with father and with school. I have revisited Hereford many times and the present school is totally different from the horror of Dr. Kink's days. Another influence at that time came from the town's connections with the 17th century mystic Thomas Traherne. A few snatched paragraphs from his Centuries which I came across in the town library drove me to roam the streets and their buildings at the end of the old town--haunts which inspired me with something like an echo of what the boy Traherne had felt. When my parents came to live at Wyeside, under the shadow of Dinedor, I used to go on long walks and cycle rides in the school holidays. One such lonely excursion was to Traherne's old parish Credenhill; the experience is recorded in my poem High hill. For its warm and exciting memories the town and county of Hereford remain dear to me."

Norman Hidden was appointed as a teacher at the King's School, Macclesfield, from 1936 to 1939. In 1939 he was selected as an English Speaking Union exchange teacher with Kenton High School, Ohio, U.S.A. He was appointed lecturer at Adrian College, Michigan, in 1940.

During the war he lectured throughout the Middle West on Britain's war effort. While waiting to return to Britain as an overseas volunteer, he worked for the Ford Motor Company in conjunction with US Army Air Force. On arrival in Britain in October 1943 he enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery and was commissioned in 1944 as Education Officer. He served as British Liaison Officer (Education) with US Army HQ in Germany, 1944-1947.

In 1953 he returned to teaching at the Goole Grammar School, Yorkshire. He also served for several years as a Labour councillor on the Goole Town Council. In 1958 he was appointed head of the english department at Hornchurch Grammar School in Essex, and from 1964 to 1973 he was senior lecturer in English at Middlesex University.

Norman Hidden's love for poetry and poets led him to found the New poetry magazine, originate Poets' picnic, introduce workshop poetry readings at the Lamb and Flag in Covent Garden and launch a series of publications by Workshop Press. From 1968 to 1971 he was the chairman of the General Council of the Poetry Society of Great Britain (National Poetry Centre). For many years he was a member of the Executive Committees of the English Association, the Council of the National Book League and the Advisory Council of the English Speaking Board.

His short stories have appeared in Pick of the year's short stories and in various magazines. In 1968 he was joint editor of the National anthology of student poetry and has edited two poetry anthologies used in schools: Say it aloud (1972) and Over to you (1975). Dr. Kink and his old style boarding school, a semi-autobiographical work based on his time at the Hereford Cathedral School, was published by Workshop Press in 1973. Liaison officer, a wartime autobiography, was published in 1993, and Caravan summer, a collection of short stories, was published in 1999. His poems have appeared in a variety of magazines and have been broadcast on the BBC. Some concrete and mobile poems were included in the 1967 Exposition Spatialiste Internationale held in Paris.

He has read his own poems at the Little Theatre (London), Phoenix Theatre (Leicester), Hornsey Town Hall, Birmingham and Midland Arts Institute and the International Students House. He was a principal reader in two official ceremonies held in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey, firstly to mark the installation of a plaque in honour of Lord Byron, and secondly to commemorate the bicentenary of Wordsworth's birth.

He has lectured on contemporary poetry at the Oxford University Institute of Education, London University Institute of Education, the English Association, staff and students of Goldsmiths' College, London, York Poetry Society, Suffolk Poetry Centre, Nottingham Centre, Leicester Poetry Society, Wolverhampton College of Art, and many schools of all kinds.

Poems about Hereford which appear in the collection, For my friends, are High hill, The dark cathedral and Mappa Mundi.

In recognition of his services to Literature he was awarded a Civil List pension by Queen Elizabeth II in 1974.
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