Robert Waller

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Robert Waller (died in 2005). According to an obituary published in The Guardian "More recently, he was well known as a BBC radio producer and a pioneer of ecological thought in Britain... During 1936-37, Waller was private secretary to the critic Desmond MacCarthy. Then, assisted by a legacy, he moved to France... Waller's collection, The Two Natures (1951) was well received but, as Eliot had predicted, he would not remain solely a poet. In 1939, he married Janet Truman, then joined the army, became an instrument mechanic in the Royal Tank Regiment, survived the Normandy landings unscathed and ended the war in Germany. He remained a private throughout the conflict... He joined the BBC as a talks producer in Forces Educational Broadcasting in 1946, moving on to the Home Service and the Third Programme, where he produced programmes on poetry, philosophy and religion, including the famous 1948 debate on the existence of God between Bertrand Russell and Father Frederick Copleston, the historian of philosophy. In 1949, he opted for a transfer to the BBC West region, based in Bristol, producing arts and agricultural programmes... But Waller could not long tolerate large institutions, and, in 1956, he left the BBC, in the same year publishing a satirical novel, Shadow of Authority, based on his experiences at the corporation. He now became a freelance writer and campaigner. Through his farming programmes he had met Sir George Stapledon and, in 1962, he published a biography of the agrarian scientist and proponent of organic agriculture; two years later, he edited Stapledon's manuscript, Human Ecology... From 1964 to 1970, Waller was editor of the Soil Association journal. In the early 1970s, he became associate editor of the Ecologist and published his own polemical attack on industrial society, Be Human or Die (1973). In the 1980s and 90s, he was campaigning for the Commonwealth Human Ecology Council and denouncing Thatcherism. His last book, The Pilgrimage of Eros (1992), included a selection of his poems and an autobiography. He spent his last years in a care home in Exeter. He was a cheerful prophet of doom, and a delightful companion with a great sense of humour... Waller had two children with his first wife. His son Billy was killed in a road accident in 1963, and in 1970 Janet herself died. A difficult second marriage ended in divorce, but in 1979 he made a happy third marriage to Susan Dowdall, an actor, who died in 2000. He is survived by his daughter Anne and four stepchildren." [1]

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  1. The Guardian Poet whose concern with pastoral ran to green campaigning, organizational web page, accessed January 24, 2012.