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Rosemary Tonks obituary

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Poet and novelist who turned her back on the literary world for four decades

The poet Rosemary Tonks, who has died aged 85, famously "disappeared" in the 1970s. The author of two poetry collections and six published novels, she turned her back on the literary world after a series of personal tragedies and medical crises which made her question the value of literature and embark on a restless, self-torturing spiritual quest.

Interviewed in 1967, she spoke of Baudelaire and Rimbaud as her direct literary forebears: "They were both poets of the modern metropolis as we know it and no one has bothered to learn what there is to be learned from them The main duty of the poet is to excite to send the senses reeling."

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