Obituary: Hampstead poet, performer and eccentric, John Horder

PUBLISHED: 17:35 02 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:40 02 August 2017

Poet John Horder died in his sleep on July 5. Picture: Chris and Carrie Ford

Poet John Horder died in his sleep on July 5. Picture: Chris and Carrie Ford


John Horder, the hugging poet, passed away in his sleep on Wednesday, July 5.

He was a very clever man, a romantic and eccentric, a performer and storyteller.

Born in Worthing in 1936, he grew up in Coulsdon, Surrey.

His father was a journalist and PR man. His mother sadly died when he was 12 years old.

This early loss affected him and his sister, Caroline, considerably all their lives.

After attending St Paul’s School he went up to Selwyn College, Cambridge to study Theology.

After a brief spell as an assistant press officer to two Archbishops of Canterbury, he moved to West Hampstead and became established in the literary circle.

He interviewed the likes of Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes and became friends with Stevie Smith.

He was a freelance writer and reviewer for the Guardian, the Independent and also for local Hampstead papers.

His first book was “The Child Walks Around Its Own Grave” and then “MeherBaba and the Nothingness”.

In 1968 he helped set up the poetry side of the Pentameters Theatre in Hampstead.

His plays include “Cakes and Carrots”, “The African who loved hugging everybody” and a reinvention of “Rumplestiltskin” which he performed on stage to much critical acclaim.

In 2002 he co-edited a celebration of Stevie Smith’s life and works entitled, “A Motley Collection”.

He was such a character and will be sadly missed by his friends up and down West End Lane and throughout Hampstead.

His favourite saying was ‘Be Happy. Don’t Worry’. He loved to walk across Hampstead Heath and always believed we should learn to love, honour, cherish and respect our own and other people’s authentic stories.

There is to be a quiet family cremation and then, later in the year, a celebration of his life. Details to be announced later.

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