John Donaldson photo Paddy Summerfield

John was a brave and remarkable man...there is real vision in his poems

      - Kathleen Raine


John Donaldson - an Introduction

The subject of this website is John Donaldson, the outcast and individualistic Oxford Poet, also known as Jon Inglis. His journey, involving orphanage life, five years as a prisoner of war and three years homeless is food for thought, and perhaps also food for the media.

The material has been brought together by his wife, Betty Donaldson, in his memory: most of the introductory words on this site are hers.

Substantial extracts from his main works are presented on the website (accessible via the menu above), and the full texts are available via links from those pages. However, we ask you please to get in touch with the site administrator to discuss matters of copyrights and licensing for educational use, and reproduction of the materials.

The following pieces are described:

  • Forever Endeavour (or, 'For ever and ever'): copy of the script of a novel depicting the early years of John's life.
  • Season of the Butterfly: copy of the script of a novel based on John's life on the streets.
  • Broadest Canvas: a political play for voices that seeks to illustrate the battles experienced in the search for truth.
  • Aphorisms: this is the bulk of John's creative thinking, and his poetic fluency. Wise, wise words that have to be pondered over.

All of his work is kept at the Oxford Archives, and you can make arrangements to see the material there.

Other materials are available in the archives: for example Straffe Compound, a one-hour play set in a POW camp where an escape is planned; while Kingdom Came is a three-hour play set in the 1970s.

Betty Donaldson was in receipt of an extraordinary letter of appreciation from Kathleen Raine, an esteemed English poet who passed away in 2003. She said:

John was a brave and remarkable man... there is real vision in his poems

Betty Donaldson 2006-11