Sheila Hancock reads a selection of poems written especially for Christmas by U.


Fanthorpe, a poet both popular and critically acclaimed.

In 1972 U.A.

Fanthorpe and Rosie Bailey started sending new poems as Christmas cards to their friends.

They continued, graduating from an old Banda machine to a small Adana moveable type press, up to U.A.'s death in 2009.

Fanthorpe was witty, original, and she reworked the Christmas story from quirky angles, such as from the donkey's point of view (the donkey who, it is suggested, later carries Christ into Jerusalem) and from the cat and sheep-dog left out of the stable.

There's even a wicked fairy who intrudes from another genre, with alternative gifts for Jesus.

These were so popular with their recipients that Enitharmon Press published a collection called 'Christmas Poems', and Sheila Hancock reads a selection from this volume.


A.'s partner Rosie Bailey, recorded at their home, with the press and some of the cards, introduces the poems.

We hear, too, from some of those on their Christmas card list, including the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and writers Lawrence Sail and Jackie Kay.

For them receiving U.A's poem was important, a funny but thoughtful beginning to Christmas.




  • Producer: Julian May