Peter Forbes Biography

Peter Forbes

Peter Forbes initially trained as a chemist and worked in pharmaceutical and popular natural history publishing, whilst writing poems, and articles for magazines such as New Scientist and World Medicine. A stint as Southern Arts Writer-in-Residence (1984-6) led to the editorship of the Poetry Society's Poetry Review, Britain's premier poetry magazine, where he nurtured very many young poets in the early stages of their career, including Glyn Maxwell, Sophie Hannah, Gwyneth Lewis and Don Paterson.

He has written numerous articles and reviews, many specializing in the relation between the arts and science, for the Guardian, Independent, Daily Mail, Financial Times, Scientific Amercian, New Scientist, World Medicine, Modern Painters, The Listener, New Statesman, and other magazines.

Since leaving Poetry Review in 2002 he has been writing reviews and writing and editing books. He has edited three anthologies: Scanning the Century: The Penguin Book of the Twentieth Century in Poetry (Viking, 1999), We Have Come Through (Bloodaxe, 2003) and All the Poems You Need to Say I Do (Picador, 2004). In 2001 he published a translation of Primo Levi's The Search for Roots (Penguin Press). The Gecko’s Foot, a book on the new science of bio-inspired materials, was published by Fourth Estate in 2005 and was long-listed for the Aventis Prize. His new book, Dazzled and Deceived: Mimicry and Camouflage, published by Yale University Press in November 2009, has been widely reviewed. He will be Royal Literary Fund Fellow at St George’s University of London from October 2010.

How I Found the Agency

I had been looking for an agent for some time, having published two books with Penguin without one but knowing that I needed an agent for the kind of books (popular science) I then wanted write. I discovered the agency through my wife, Diana Reich, who was then the Director of English PEN. Andrew was on the PEN committee. We met and worked hard on proposals for a while before success with The Gecko's Foot. Andrew's work was absolutely vital in launching me as a popular science writer.

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