Britain on Friday awarded the role of national poet laureate to Carol Ann Duffy — the first woman to hold a post that has been filled by William Wordsworth, Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Ted Hughes.
Ms. Duffy, who once said “no self-respecting poet” should have to write verses about the wedding of Queen Elizabeth II’s youngest son, will be expected to produce poems for royal weddings, funerals and other state occasions.
A witty and popular writer whose work is widely taught in British schools, Duffy is also the first openly gay laureate.
Duffy said she had thought “long and hard” before accepting the job, which now has a 10-year term.
“I look on it as a recognition of the great woman poets we have writing now,” she told the BBC.
The government was due to announce the appointment officially later on Friday.
Ms. Duffy succeeds Andrew Motion, who was widely praised for expanding the laureate’s role to become a national champion for poetry. His eight official poems were less well-received. His rap-style poem marking Prince William’s 21st birthday in 2003 —which opened “Better stand back/Here’s an age attack” — met with derision.
Ms. Duffy said she would give away the annual salary of just over 5,000 pounds ($7,500) to the Poetry Society to fund a prize. The laureate traditionally also receives a “butt of sack” — about 600 bottles’ worth of sherry, donated by the Sherry Institute of Spain.
“Andrew hasn’t had his yet so I’ve asked for mine up front,” Ms. Duffy said.