Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the writer best known for her poem Not Waving But Drowning, whose success has arguably overshadowed her wider work as a poet and novelist.

Period16 Feb 2023

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleIn Our Time: Stevie Smith
    Degree of recognitionNational
    Media name/outletBBC Radio 4
    Media typeRadio
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    DescriptionIn 1957 Stevie Smith published a poetry collection called Not Waving But Drowning – and its title poem gave us a phrase which has entered the language.

    Its success has overshadowed her wider work as the author of more than half a dozen collections of poetry and three novels, mostly written while she worked as a secretary. Her poems, printed with her pen and ink sketches, can seem simple and comical, but often beneath the surface lurk themes of melancholy, loneliness, love and death.

    Jeremy Noel-Tod
    Associate Professor in the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia

    Noreen Masud
    Lecturer in Twentieth Century Literature at the University of Bristol


    Will May
    Professor of Modern and Contemporary Literature at the University of Southampton
    PersonsJeremy Noel-Tod