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.
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.