Vernon Scannell's Poetry
Support for studying English GCSE and A Level
Vernon Scannell - Biography
Vernon Scannell (birth name: John Vernon Bain) was born (Spilsby, Lincolnshire, England) on 23 January 1922 and died on 16 November 2007 (West Yorkshire, England). He was an English poet, author and professional boxer.
Scannell’s family were poor and moved regularly when Vernon was young. Most of his youth was spent in Aylesbury (Buckinghamshire). He left school, aged fourteen, to become a clerk in an insurance office. He was a keen reader and boxer.
In 1940, Scannell enlisted in the army. He fought in the Middle East and the Normandy Landings. On two occasions, he deserted from the army and was court-martialled. After this, he taught History and English at Hazelwood School, Limpsfield, Surrey.
Scannell published poetry from 1950s until the last year of his life. He received many awards for his poetry and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Vernon Scannell - 'Nettles' - Annotation
Annotation prompts for Vernon Scannell’s ‘Nettles’.
‘Nettles’ is written from a father’s perspective – he witnesses his son falling into a bed of nettles, before attempting to eradicate them. Metaphorically it represents parents not being able to protect their offspring from life’s impending problems. Vernon Scannell (23.01.1922 – 16.11.2007) was born John Vernon Bain. He fought in WW2, but disliked war and deserted twice – he was arrested and court-martialled.
Is the poem autobiographical? Scannell had 6 children. One handicapped son died as an infant and another son died much later in a motorcycle accident. It could be argued that personal tragedy is at the heart of Scannell’s work.
The annotation prompts are a supportive tool, intended to encourage further poetry analysis and interpretation.