> Skip to content
About the book
  • Published: 15 November 2008
  • ISBN: 9780099531869
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $29.99

The Presence

Formats & editions

A distinguished poet's moving memoir of his wife who died in a car accident in 2005.


Loss, grief and love are the themes of this remarkable memoir from one of Britain’s most distinguished poets.

Some months after Dannie Abse’s wife Joan died in a car accident in June 2005, he began to write a diary which is both a record of present grief and a portrait of marriage which lasted more than fifty years. It is an extraordinary document, painful but celebratory; funny as well as sad, bursting with joy as well as sorrow and full of a deep understanding of what it means to be human.

  • Pub date: 15 November 2008
  • ISBN: 9780099531869
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $29.99

About the Author

Dannie Abse

Dannie Abse was for many years a chest specialist in a London teaching hospital. A poet, reviewer and playwright, he has written and edited more than fifteen books of poetry, as well as books about medicine and also fiction. He is the author of Ash on a Young Man's Sleeve and several autobiographical volumes, including Goodbye, Twentieth Century, which was published in 2001 to critical acclaim. He died, at the age of 91, in September 2014.

Also by Dannie Abse

See all

Praise for The Presence

“A supremely fresh and vital performance, matching profound emotion with witty observation... This is a truly marvellous book”


“Abse's diary is a remarkable and tender document”

Sunday Times

“For all its painful honesty, [this is] a surprisingly joyful and compelling book... Imbued with all the best qualities of what it means to human and in love”

Independent on Sunday

“The Presence is a fragment of autobiography written from the most private part of a poet's heart, with a pen dipped in blood and tears. That it transcends this to become both elegiac and celebratory, to inhabit both the suffered present and the beloved past, places it almost beyond the scope of routine criticism.”

Daily Telegraph

“Hauntingly poignant... One hopes that he comes before long to share the happiness this wise, funny, heart rending little book brings to its readers”

Daily Telegraph

“Full of memorable images... As Abse performs the strange and also strangely valuable work of mourning, he offers, with The Presence, wit and balm”

Financial Times

“Elegy and eulogy, full of kindness and understanding of our common vulnerablility, this lovely book is a very rich boon”

The Times

Related titles