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Carol Ann Duffy: The World's Wife

16. The Devil’s Wife

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the sixteenth poem in the collection, 'The Devil's Wife', focusing in particular on: (i) the figures of the Moors Murderers, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, the subjects of the poem even though neither is ever named; (ii) the extent to which we feel sympathy for the speaker in the poem; (iii) the five-part structure of the poem; (iv) the importance of what isn't said – e.g. the names of the murderers, their victims, what Brady and Hindley actually did, etc.; (v) the extent to which the horror of the Moors Murders was encapsulated in a picture – Myra Hindley's mugshot ("I gave the cameras my Medusa stare"); (vi) the development of the relationship from the sexually explicit at the beginning ("I went mad for the sex") to something else at the end – but what?; and (vii) the multiple meanings of the word "life".


In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Carol Ann Duffy’s 1999 collection, 'The World's Wife'. After a brief introduction to the collection as a whole, the course continue with a read-through and analysis of each of the thirty poems in the collection, one by one.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2020, April 28). Carol Ann Duffy: The World's Wife - The Devil’s Wife [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Carol Ann Duffy: The World's Wife – The Devil’s Wife." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 28 Apr 2020,