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1950s (aged 30–39)

By 1950, Edwin Morgan was a young lecturer in English Literature at the University of Glasgow. He had returned in January 1946 to take up undergraduate studies interrupted by fi ve years of war service in the Middle East. A conscientious objector at nineteen, he volunteered for a non-combatant role in the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving in Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine. Th ose years of open-air life, with a measure of sexual freedom within a military environment that was generally male, hedonistic and non-intellectual, had left him ill-prepared for the enduring austerities of post-war Scotland, and for the study of literature. Romantic poetry seemed particularly beside the point.

Th e army had taught self-reliance, however, and he gradually got back into the way of study, made friends among the younger generation of students (he was always a charming and interesting companion), and passed his Finals so confi dently that he was immediately off ered a post as Junior Lecturer. Classes were beginning to burgeon, with an unstable mix of ex-Forces mature students and youngsters who had been schoolchildren during the war years, so the work was demanding enough. His parents, with whom he lived until the early 1960s, would have preferred a ‘safer’ job in a bank for their only son.

Th e 1950s were diffi cult years for Morgan, a period of doubt and doubleness. He was assiduous in his teaching, thorough and attentive to detail, and yet the burden of termtime work constrained artistic ambition. Th e poetic life had to be postponed to university vacations, mainly, and a sense of

6 the midnight letterbox

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