Few British writers of the twentieth century have inspired such resentment as Geoffrey Grigson. As editor of the dogmatic poetry journal New Verse in the 1930s, he championed the likes of Auden and Macneice, but at the same time made unshakeable enemies through a fiercely passionate critical ideal that he was later to describe, a little ruefully, as a 'billhook' which he would take to the pompous, the inflated, the egotistical, anything he viewed as being worthlessly retrograde, empty word-play or socio-political posturing.

Edith Sitwell he regarded as the 'old Jane', and their feud was unrelenting. The poet Roy Campbell, incensed by some of Grigson's comments, physically attacked him in a London street. John Betjeman, turned down by New Verse, proceeded to the white horse carved onto the hill above his house in Uffington, Oxfordshire, and 'gravely cursed' Grigson. Later in life they 'enjoyed' some edgy degree of friendship, though Betjeman's diaries betray an underlying simmer, and Grigson certainly never revised his opinions of Betjeman's poetry.