Peter Levi (1931-2000) was a poet, archaeologist, travel writer, biographer, scholar and prolific reviewer and critic.
At the age of 17 he joined the Society of Jesus in the novitiate, and he remained a Jesuit until he resigned the priesthood 29 years later. He then married and spent a year as archaeological correspondent for The Times before returning to academic life, and later became Professor of Poetry at University of Oxford.
A dedicated classicist, Professor Levi’s prolific output includes works not easily categorised, covering history, religion, and the English landscape. He received particular acclaim for The Light Garden of the Angel King, an account of his travels in Afghanistan; and for The Hill of Kronos, a radiant portrait of the Greece he came to know through a lifetime of exploration. He published over twenty collections of poetry, and also wrote and translated a number of thrillers.
His many religious, critical and scholarly works include a translation of the second-century Greek traveller and geographer Pausanias’ Guide to Greece, a ground-breaking version of The Psalms for Penguin Classics, and books on Greece, the Ancient World and travel. Towards the end of his life concentrated on poetry and biography, publishing celebrated biographies of Shakespeare, Boris Pasternak, Tennyson, Edward Lear, Virgil, Horace and John Milton.
His final publication was the posthumous poetry collection Viriditas, which contains contemplations on his fading eyesight and the natural world, composed whilst walking round the green in the Gloucestershire village where he lived.