Friday, January 29, 2010

In Memoriam: Eric Ratcliffe (1918 - 2009)

Eric Ratcliffe was born in Teddington on 18th August 1918. During the Second World War he served in India as an ammunition examiner. He was married in 1947 but divorced in 1960. He founded and edited Ore poetry magazine from 1954 to 1995.

I never personally met Eric but we corresponded for many years. After closing Ore he became a regular reviewer for NHI Review. When the review first went online he sent me his reviews typed and I had to scan or retype them. However after a few years he became computer competent and was able to email his reviews.

I suspect though that his main reason for going online was due to his interest in chess. I understood that he had played postal chess for a good number of years and the transition to computer chess made for a swifter return of moves.

As a reviewer one of his strengths was that he turned them round usually within a week. Of course, like all my reviewers, he ruffled a few feathers. He was a little pernickity about format and would criticise pamphlets that carried no pagination or failed to obtain a proper ISBN. He was critical too of sloppy proof-reading.

Four of Eric's many collections are reviewed on NHI Review.

Poetry Salzburg published two collections of his poetry as well as the anthology Veins of Gold: ORE 1954-1995 ed. Eric Ratcliffe & Wolfgang Görtschacher (ISBN 3-7052-0089-5, A5/perfect bound, 259pp).

As well as poetry and chess his interests included the Druid order. One of the photos found on his website shows him leading a Druid procession up Primrose Hill in 1968. I know very little about this side of his character.

I only discovered that Eric had died due to the return in December of my annual Xmas card marked "gone away". It wasn't until I spoke with Steve Sneyd who had correspondence returned marked "deceased" that I was certain. The local press in Stevenage where he lived do not appear to have carried an obituary. Sneyd, writing in Data Dump #144 (80p/$2 from 4 Nowell Place, Huddersfield HD5 8PB), says
vast indeed was ER's vision.
Eric's web pages at are presently still online. Visit them now before they disappear.


  1. I think we know very little actual fact about the Druids also. I had a student who chose to write a 10 page research paper on the subject and had great difficulty filling the 10 pages.

  2. A lovely tribute, Gerald. My dad was in India during the war. Perhaps they met?

  3. I knew old Eric for a number of years.I think he looked upon me as a surrogate son. I was never a poetry buff but he always gave me a copy of his new publications. He was a real gentleman. I was glad to have seen him a few times at the time he passed away. At least he was'nt completely alone when he left this world.