Kate Clanchy was born in Glasgow and educated in Edinburgh and Oxford. After working for several years as a teacher in London’s East End, she moved to Oxford. She has been a teacher in state schools for nearly 30 years, and is currently Writer in Residence at the comprehensive school Oxford Spires Academy, where she has nurtured creative talent among the pupils, many of whom have come to the UK as refugees. An anthology of the pupils’ poetry, England: Poems from a School was published by Macmillan in 2018.
Clanchy’s first collection, Slattern, was published in 1996 and won both the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Saltire Prize for Scottish First Book of the Year. Newborn (2004) was a collection of poems covering pregnancy, birth and caring for a new baby. Her selected poems were published in 2014 by Picador.
Kate Clanchy was the first City Poet of Oxford, from 2011 to 2013, and was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2018.
The author was the subject of some controversy over the use of language in her memoir Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me (Picador, 2019). She agreed to re-write certain descriptions of people of colour and students with autism for a republication of the book. She referred to this experience as ‘humbling’.
In 2021, Clanchy edited a collection of ‘Young Voices in Lockdown’, drawn from poets who attended Clanchy’s after-school workshops. Profits from the e-book, titled Unmute, go toward Asylum Welcome, a charity assisting asylum seekers around Oxford.