Dixon was born on 29th November 1931 in Spennymoor, Co. Durham, then a mining village. He was brought up by his grandmother, only to discover when he was a 14-year old grammar school boy that Hilda, the woman he has though to be an older sister was in fact his mother – he had been an illegitimate baby. The experience would later be reflected in the poetry for which he is mostly remembered.
Like most children in those days, he failed the eleven plus. Two years later, however, he gained a place at grammar school by means of an “occasional admittance” exam, which was part of a drive to recruit more teachers. From there, he climbed quite high up the educational ladder by going on to
After National Service in the late 1950s he was sent to GCHQ in
The army posted him to
There he met a Cuban woman with whom he fell in love and who told him about the Cuban revolution and Che Guevara. He returned from
He began teaching at the Risinghill school at the beginning of the academic year in 1963. It was in one of the toughest areas of London and responded with an attempt to adopt non-authoritarian approaches to discipline that gathered intense media criticism to such an extent that it closed in 1965. After various temporary teaching jobs in
He wrote three books on the malign ways in which the publishing and toy manufacturing industries have shaped the stereotypes and attitudes of generations of British children. As well as being the author of a number of talented books analysing children’s literature,
Described by those who were close to him from this experience as a “quietly spoken and extremely modest man”, he wrote poetry that is “characterised by an upfront, acerbic wit and deep insight”. He was a well-known figure on the leftwing poetry scene, reading at CND rallies and other political events. Bob Dixon was “an uncompromising and highly principled socialist, and this did not always make it easy for his friends, though his warmth and deep humanitarian beliefs always overcame any criticism one might have had.”
His poetry savagely reflected cynical political attitudes and the impact such politics have on individuals and society. His collections include: Make Capitalism History (2006), Agitpoems (1985) and More Agitation (1999). Shortly before his death he had finished writing a rather bitter and melancholic autobiography, `The Wrong’.
He made mainstream media news when he put his mother’s "time capsule" house in Durham Rd, Spennymoor on the market; described as such since its décor had remained unaltered, though immaculately maintained, since 1961. Bob was infuriated when this story was splashed in the Sun and the Daily Mail without his permission or knowledge, particularly because they failed to mention the publication of `The Wrong’, the launch of which had prompted the local press interest in the property.
Bob Dixon’s contribution is remembered as “immense, from his days as a teacher to his powerful poetry, he will be remembered by us all for his warmth, wit and generosity, he was a socialist stalwart with a communist vision, ever ready to contribute to the liberation of humanity.” He died aged 76 on
Sources: Morning Star