Most prolific poet
John Bradburne
169,925 total number
Not Applicable ()

Measured in terms of lines of poetry alone, John Bradburne (UK, 1921–1979) is the most prolific poet in the English language. Comprising a total of 169,925 individual lines, Bradburne’s output almost doubles that of William Shakespeare, whose Oxford Complete Works includes 87,668 lines of poetry.

Bradburne completed about 6,000 poems in total, mostly written during the period 1968–79 and covering a wide range of spiritual, natural, elegiac and narrative subject matter. As he wrote his domestic letters largely in verse, new poems from the recipients are still occasionally found.

Bradburne was born in Skirwith, Cumbria, UK, the son of an Anglican clergyman. He fought in World War II and later became a Roman Catholic, travelling widely in Europe and the Middle East. He worked to protect leprosy patients at Mutemwa Leprosy Settlement in Zimbabwe, but was shot during the Zimbabwean civil war after being kidnapped and interrogated by guerillas. Pilgrims now visit Mutemwa in recognition of Bradburne’s life and work, and there is a call for him to be recognized as a saint.