Helen Dunmore, a prolific poet, novelist and writer for children and young adults, died of cancer at 64 in 2017. Her last collection of poetry won the Costa Poetry award posthumously.
Dunmore started as a poet but, on turning to fiction - her first novel, Zennor in Darkness, was published in 1993 when she was 40 - she found that the longer form was like ‘taking the brakes off”. She was a dedicated sea swimmer - she had a house in coastal Cornwall - and this, plus two years spent teaching in Finland, accounted for the fact that she became ‘a connoisseur of the cold’. Her personality, however, was warm - and she dedicated much time helping other writers through the Arvon foundation, the Society of Authors and the Royal Literary Fund.