Polly Atkin lives in Grasmere, in the English Lake District. She grew up in Nottingham, then lived in East London for seven years before moving North West.

Polly walks into the lake in a green velvet dress under a stormy sky
Photo by John Shedwick

She writes poetry and nonfiction.

Her debut poetry collection Basic Nest Architecture was published in February 2017 by Seren, followed in October 2021 by her second collection Much With Body, a PBS Winter 2021 recommendation and Laurel Prize longlistee, supported by a 2020 Northern Writers Award and a residency at Cove Park.

Her biography, Recovering Dorothy: The Hidden Life of Dorothy Wordsworth (Saraband, 2021) is the first to focus on Dorothy’s later life and illness, and place her into Disability History.

Her memoir in essays exploring place, belonging and chronic illness, Some Of Us Just Fall, will be published by Sceptre in summer 2023.

She has taught English and Creative Writing at QMUL, Lancaster University, and the Universities of Strathclyde and Cumbria. She holds a doctorate on Romantic legacies and the Lake District, conducted under the AHRC Landscape and Environment project, in collaboration with The Wordsworth Trust and Lancaster University.

In 2019 she co-founded the Open Mountain initiative at Kendal Mountain Festival, which seeks to recentre voices currently at the margins of outdoor, mountain and nature writing. In 2022 she became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


In 2014 she was diagnosed with one of the  Ehlers Danlos Syndromes (EDS) – hereditary connective tissue disorders. In 2015 she was also diagnosed with Genetic Haemochromatosis, a hereditary metabolic disorder which leads to a toxic accumulation of iron in the body.

She writes and talks about various aspects of living with chronic illness, including disability and the environment, living in a rural place and as a disabled person, access to nature and access to the arts.


18 thoughts on “About

  1. you gona send me a pamphlet – i was wanting to show my students a few different styles and types – tried Lancaster uni but my email never got through….hows life up in the sticks?? NR x

    1. Neil! Sorry have been in a pit of non-response … heard you’re coming up at weekend? Will give you one then if so, if not, send me your address & I’ll post one x

  2. Hi Polly
    Many thanks for the fireside poetry evening at Dove Cottage on Thursday. Both David and I really enjoyed it. We thought the seasonal theme and poetry selection were excellent and the setting was very atmospheric. You were great too and already we feel enthused about poetry! See you at the next session.
    Thanks again,
    Louise Sykes

  3. Hello Polly… I just found your page while googling EDS and HH. I have both as well. I also have a degree in English Lit and love poetry. Interesting, no?
    Looking forward to working my way through your site.
    Your kindred spirit from Canada,
    Laura Wood

    1. How amazing! Maybe we’re living parallel lives. We should have a group for bendy-rusties. I think there’s another person in the UK HH group who has both too. I wonder if there are more of us? Would be great to have more advice on negotiating both, wouldn’t it? Hope you are doing as well as you can be,
      Greetings from a house full of Canadian lit in the UK!
      Polly x

      1. Hi Polly-

        Just as the person above I found your page while googling EDS and HH. I also have both! I wonder about the correlation and how many of us are out there! Was just diagnosed with EDS last week. Always thought I was really talented and disciplined with yoga but turns out I just have stretchy-syndrome.

        Anyways– hope you are well and safe.


  4. Dear Polly, I thought your reading at the Poetry Carousel was brilliant. I have read your recent poems online about your battles with illness and they really strike a chord with me. I wish you loads of luck for 2018. Kitty x

  5. Would you be interested in taking part in a series of interviews with poets and flash fiction writers that I will put on my WordPress, Twitter and Facebook accounts? It can take the form of either a list of questions you can take away and complete, then e-mail back to me or a more fluid conversation via messenger or email. Your choice.

      1. Hi Kitty, sorry – that comment wasn’t from me – it was from someone else and I’d missed it so just approved it – it had been accidentally sitting in spam!

  6. I’m Reading Recovering Dorothy. I didn’t even know about her existence until I went to Grasmere last week. I am a writer of an urban fantasy series River Rule based in the Himalayas and a mental fitness coach but much of my time I care for my mother who even in her pain is vivacious at 84. My mum like Dorothy allows nature to heal and keeps her perspective on growth and beauty. I even took her to the Lakes last week in tribute to our father who brought us there from Manchester many a weekend. Admittedly he only took us to Windermere and Kendal.
    Coming back to your book I was reminded in ink that to love another you must see them as complete in all seasons. I’ve only read the first part in a couple of hours but I can’t wait to discover the rest.
    Finally I find a gutsy and beautiful book that embraces all of a historic woman thus keeping them of flesh and blood and not allowing them to be depicted as a ghost of themselves.
    Thank you,

    1. Thank you so much for this comment Amy – that’s so exactly what I want this book to be doing, it’s really heartening to hear, and also wonderful to hear about your mum, and your childhood trips to the lakes. Sending good wishes to you all, and I’m looking up River Rule because it sounds amazing! Polly x

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