An influential poet and publisher who was well respected in the literary world has died aged 88.

Eddie Linden, who published the poetry magazine Aquarius, died on November 19 at Beachcroft House care home, in Shirland Road, Maida Vale from old age and progressive dementia.

His funeral on December 8  was attended by actor Bill Paterson, Karen Buck MP, Westminster City Council leader Cllr Adam Hug, writer Robert Fraser and gay rights activist Peter McGraith.

A life-long left-winger, he was a contemporary of the late Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament activists Bruce Kent and Pat Arrowsmith and marched to Aldermaston in 1962, said writer and friend Theo Morgan.

When Boris Johnson made a mayoral election campaign visit to Maida Vale in 2012, Johnson saw Linden and said “You’ll be voting Conservative, won’t you?”

He was swiftly admonished by Linden, who retorted: “You’re a buffoon!” informing Johnson that he had never voted Conservative in his life.

Linden was born in Motherwell, Scotland, on May 5 1935, the illegitimate son of Irish immigrant parents whose relationship had not lasted.

Ham & High: Poet and publisher Eddie Linden holding his own Aquarius Poet and publisher Eddie Linden holding his own Aquarius (Image: Peter McGraith)

Linden’s birth mother had her son adopted by her sister-in-law’s brother, Edward, a miner, in the days when illegitimacy carried a social stigma.

Although Linden was named John Edward Glackin on his birth certificate, he was known as Eddie Linden after his adoption and raised as a Catholic. 

Aged 8, his world fell apart when his adoptive mother, Mary Glenn, died from blood poisoning.

Two years later Linden’s adoptive father married Joan Kelly, a Scottish Presbyterian, and Linden subsequently learnt that the woman he thought was his “auntie” was actually his biological mother.

Linden left school at 14 without any qualifications and barely able to write.

The following year, his biological mother died from colon cancer. He never knew his birth father.

After leaving school, Linden worked in a coal mine, a steel mill, and as a ticket collector at Hamilton West railway station.

Aged 16, Linden he joined the Independent Labour Party, before becoming a member of the Young Communist League.

He later went to London for a Communist Party meeting as the branch delegate of his British Rail, and transferred his job to the capital.

In August 1958, Linden was transferred to Kentish Town West railway station, and was helped to find accommodation by the actor Harry Landis. 

He lived in Camden Town, later moving to Archway.

Linden began to sell the Catholic Labour newspaper on the streets, and write articles for it.

In September 1959, he announced the formation of the Catholic Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, of which he was secretary. Within a year, had 800 members. 

At a time when sex between men was illegal, Linden struggled to reconcile his faith with his nascent sexuality and went into the Anderson Hospital in Sussex in a failed attempt to "cure" his homosexuality.

He won a scholarship to Plater College, linked to the University of Oxford, but struggled there and had a breakdown.

Linden had a fraught relationship with the Catholic Church. In August 1968, he protested against the Pope’s rejection of contraception outside Westminster Cathedral. He also opposed the sacking of priests who disagreed with the Pope.

In the late 1960s, Linden became acquainted with the poet John Heath-Stubbs, and developed an interest in poetry.

He moved from Hampstead to Maida Vale and began to organise poetry readings at the Lamb and Flag pub in Covent Garden.

These readings inspired him to start his own poetry magazine, Aquarius, in 1969.

The first issue featured contributions from poets George Barker and Stevie Smith.

A financial gift from the playwright Harold Pinter helped Aquarius get off the ground. 

Poet laureate John Betjeman donated to “good old Aquarius” annually, Auberon Waugh said it was the best poetry magazine in Britain, and among its readers were Conservative politician Kenneth Baker.

Linden, who published the magazine on a shoestring budget from his bedsit, was later aided by an Arts Council grant following a question in Parliament.

The magazine published work by Nobel Prize-winner Seamus Heaney and poet laureate Ted Hughes; among the 26 issues of Aquarius were themed Irish, Scottish, Australian and Canadian editions.

Others focused on a particular poet, while a 1992 special edition on contemporary women’s writing featured Jackie Kay, Carol Ann Duffy and Fay Weldon.

 A collection of Linden’s poems, City of Razors, was published in 1980.

The title of Linden’s biography Who is Eddie Linden, by Sebastian Barker, gave rise to a 1995 play of the same name, which starred Michael Deacon as Linden, alongside Dallas Campbell as an aspiring young poet. The play had a successful run at The Old Red Lion in Islington.

The last issue of Aquarius came out in 2002. A tribute book, Eddie’s Own Aquarius, was published in 2005, marking his 70th birthday.

Among those contributing were Roger McGough, Labour MP Clare Short and Poet Laureate Andrew Motion. A second volume of Linden’s poetry, A Thorn in the Flesh, was published in 2011.

In 2020, Linden was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and in 2021, he moved to Beachcroft House.

Eddie Linden never married or had a long-term partner.

He was cremated at the West London Crematorium in Kensal Green.