Adrian Mitchell

Adrian Mitchell was born in 1932 in north London. In the era of compulsory National Service, Mitchell was conscripted into the RAF, the experience triggering his lifelong pacifism and moral concerns about societal injustice. These were reflected in the political messages in his writings.

After graduating in English from Christ Church, Oxford, he spent a few years working as a journalist. His public breakthrough as a poet came in 1965 at the Poetry Internationale in the Albert Hall, where he read ‘To Whom It May Concern’ to huge appreciation and applause. This was a protest poem criticising the US invasion of Vietnam, Mitchell would regularly remix the last part of the poem throughout his career to include what he believed were other unjust mitiary initiatives.

Writing soon after Mitchell’s death, fellow poet John Burnside described Mitchell as ‘a gifted and deeply humane writer … someone we could depend upon to speak out, honestly, and with that rare mix of good judgment and engagement that so few of us achieve’.