Alan Brownjohn was born in July of 1931 in London, England. As a young man he was educated at Merton College, Oxford. After graduating he went on to work as a schoolteacher and then later as a lecturer. He spent time between 1957 and 1965 working at Battersea College of Education and South Bank Polytechnic.
It was in 1979 he became a full-time freelance writer and broadcaster. The following years saw him work with the Time Literary Supplement as well as the New Statesman and the Sunday Times. After making this change he began to participate in Philip Hobsbaum’s weekly poetry meetings. This collection of writers was known as The Group and grew to include attendees such as Peter Redgrove and Edward Lucie-Smith. These years also saw Brownjohn becoming involved in politics as a candidate for Parliament, he polled in second place.
For a period of time he served on the Arts Council Literature panel and was the Chairman of the Poetry Society from 1982 to 1988. His career also included collaborating on three anthologies for secondary schools.
Brownjohn’s first collection was titled Travelers Alone, it was published in 1954. It was followed seven years later by The Railings. As Brownjohn’s literary style evolved, he began to incorporate greater elements of fiction into his poetry. He also started writing novels, the first of which was To Clear the River, written under the pen name John Berrington. The 1960s also saw the publication of The Lion’s Mouths and A Day by Indirections.
Brownjohn’s career did not slow down, he continued to publish prolifically throughout the seventies with works such as Synopsis, Warrior’s Career, and A Song of Good Life. A collection of his poems titled, Collected Poems, was released in 1983. It included work from 1952 onward.
In the 90s Brownjohn won the Author’s Club First Novel Award for The Way You Tell Them. He also received a Cholmondeley Award for his poetry. His poetic works are noted for their discussion of desire, obligation, and moral concern. He has frequently been compared to Phillip Larkin whose work also faced on the morals of everyday life and utilized regular forms of verse.