The History of The Poet Laureate

The History of The Poet Laureate

Sign up for blog updates and get an instant 10% off code for NCC Home Learning courses.

Poet laureate is a title given to a renowned poet who is expected to provide verses about national events and raise the nation’s awareness of poetry.

Many countries appoint a regular poet laureate under different names, but England was the first in the 17th century. The position is versatile depending on the person holding it at the time, so the works of the laureate vary; however, they have all contributed to the preservation of the art form greatly.

Since the post became royally established in 1668, the U.K has had 28 poet laureates. We’ve put together some information about the position and the people who have held it since Charles II officially introduced it to help you better understand the importance of the post.

What Is A Poet Laureate?

The poet laureate is a poet chosen by the government to create poems for national affairs and increase appreciation of the work. Previously, poet laureates had to write poetry for royal events and communal occasions. Although it’s no longer an official requirement, many laureates  continue to do so in reaction to the country’s affairs. Poet laureates also often set up awards, foundations, and archives to support the future of poetry and its authors. Part of their position is also to encourage the public’s interest in the reading, writing and importance of the art form. Until 1999, the poet laureate remained in the position until their death however, each representative now holds the position for ten years to allow more diversity.

How To Become A Poet Laureate?

The reigning monarch awards the poet laureate position to a poet of national significance, with a body of renowned work and a strong understanding of its creation. No one can apply for the role – on the advice of a range of people from different literary and arts organisations, the government chooses a gifted poet for the post.

If you would like to develop your own body of renowned work, poetry or otherwise, we have some brilliant writing courses that will help you. They will greatly improve your writing skills and give you the inspiration to nurture your talent and confidence in your abilities – and potentially get you that step closer to poet laureate!

Past Poet Laureates

The role of the poet laureate was officially introduced by Charles II in 1668. Despite this, others were assigned the same duties and received a pension for them before that date, but because these people weren’t officially appointed we haven’t included them in our timeline.

Here are the official poet laureates as appointed by the King or Queen at the time:

Poet laureate infographic

Although the UK has only one royally appointed laureate, there are many themed laureates up and down the country. From the children’s laureate, the canal laureate and the Scottish makar – there are poetry representatives all over the country. They all play a part in preserving poetry and its importance for this and future generations. Their continued efforts, including an online archive, multiple awards and endless verses celebrating points in Britain’s history, serve as a reminder that poetry is a beautiful form of expression that helps people connect with one another, something we all need in these times.

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
Like this article? Spread the word

Related courses you may also like