Timothy Adès : Translator–Poet

About Timothy Adès

Timothy Adès, born 1941, has degrees in classics and international business. He translates mainly French, German and Spanish poems into English, tending to work with rhyme and metre.

His six books to date are:

  • Storysongs/Chantefables: for good children to sing to any tune: by Robert Desnos, with translations by Timothy Adès and illustrations by Cat Zaza. Agenda Editions, 2014. Fully bilingual, double–fronted book.
  • Victor Hugo, How to be a Grandfather, Hearing Eye, 2012
    • new complete edition, revised and enlarged;
    • English only. Rhyming text, introduction, lifeline, notes;
    • other poems by Hugo; Hugo as seen by other poets;
  • Jean Cassou, 33 Sonnets of the Resistance (composed and memorised in a Vichy prison), Arc Publications, second edition, 2005; bilingual facing text; and other poems
  • Cassou, The Madness of Amadis, Agenda Editions, 2008; bilingual; and other poems
  • Hugo, The Big Story of the Lion, Hearing Eye, 2014: a poem from Grandfather: fold-out, with art by Emily Johns
  • Alberto Arvelo, Florentino and the Devil, Shearsman, 2014: cattlemen of Venezuela, rapid-rhyming duel: bilingual

See a full list of Timothy Adès’s publications.

Other favourites are Brecht, and the Mexican, Alfonso Reyes; Sikelianós, Nerval, Louise Labé, Ricarda Huch, Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera, Hans/Jean Arp; and most of all, Robert Desnos, 1900–45, the most exciting French poet of the last century.

Timothy’s awards include the John Dryden Prize and the TLS Premio Valle–Inclán Prize.


Timothy’s bookstall of translated poetry will be at Lauderdale House (Highgate Hill) on various dates to be announced. This is a unique bookstall for poetry in translation. Timothy has a good knowledge of the best translators and publishers. Most of the books have English and foreign texts on facing pages. Prices are keen. You’d never see a display like this in a bookshop!

Timothy and Cat Zaza have appeared at Hatchards in St Pancras Station, at Owl Bookshop on Kentish Town Road, at Claire de Rouen Bookshop on Charing Cross Road, and at Chantelivre, 13 rue de Sèvres, Paris. They signed, adorned and recited from their new book, Storysongs/Chantefables, animal whimsies by Robert Desnos.

Timothy has read solo at the Suffolk Poetry Society, the Kent and Sussex Poetry Society, at Mayfield for Agenda, in Guernsey, at Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (twice), at the Maison Française in Oxford and at many venues around London, and has featured in events at the Universities of East Anglia (twice) and Newcastle, at Keswick in Cumbria, at the British Library and at King’s Place in London. A Londoner, he often contributes at the Torriano and the Troubadour.

He has appeared three times at the Institut Français. He organised a translator panel at the Torbay Poetry Festival, 2009, and spoke for poetry at International Translation Day, London 2013.

His solo presentation ‘Rhyming Translator–Poet’ at, and for, the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution in June 2011 raised hundreds of pounds in admissions and sales of books and magazines.

Read more about poetry events involving Timothy Adès.

  • Translating Poetry

    “I like to work with rhyme and metre, as in the original. This was a very long poem, in translator hours. It was a joy to find so many happy co–incidences, so many rhymes, some ordinary, some curious and unforeseeable. ‘Wake you’ with ‘vehicle’! So many twists and turns and lucky escapes, thanks to the mighty English language.”

    Read the full article by Timothy Adès.

  • Critical Opinion

    On Victor Hugo How to be a Grandfather:

    “[Often] one forgets that one is reading a translation at all … This is great poetry of childhood, and …, not co–incidentally, it is among the finest poetry of old age … I strongly recommend [it] for the accomplishment of the translator and for the thought–provoking quality of much of what is translated.”

    — Glyn Pursglove

    Read more critical appreciation of Timothy Adès’s work.

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