During World War II he served in the British Army in Cairo and Eritrea. He was published as a poet in Salamander, a Cairo literary magazine. At the same time he was involved with the New Apocalyptics group, writing an introductory essay for the anthology The White Horseman, and formulating as well as anyone did the idea that they were successors to surrealism. After the war he became a prominent figure in London's literary circles, working as a journalist and critic. Together with his wife Paddy he made friends with a gamut of literary figures, from the intellectual leader William Empson to the eccentric John Gawsworth. He worked with Ian Fletcher to have Gawsworth's Collected Poems (1949) published. His direction was that of the traditional man of letters (soon to become extinct). In 1949 he accepted the job of replacing Edmund Blunden as Cultural Adviser to the UK Liaison Mission in Tokyo. This ended badly when he suffered a breakdown in 1951 while in Japan. Subsequently he was much less the poet than the all-purpose writer.
He became a lecturer at the University of Leicester in 1959, where he was an inspiring teacher, remaining there until retirement in 1979.
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