Carol Ann Duffy named as Poet Laureate

The new Poet Laureate was named today as Andrew Motion's 10-year tenure comes to an end, with Carol Ann Duffy becoming the first female to hold the title.

Duffy, 53, is credited as being a rarity in poetry for combining commercial and critical success. She was in the running for the prestigious role in 1999, but lost out to Motion over what British media reported were concerns about how people would react to a lesbian laureate.

Duffy was born in Glasgow and read philosophy at Liverpool University. In 2002 she was made a CBE and lectures in poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Among her adult poetry collections, many of which have won major awards, are "Standing Female Nude" (1985), "Mean Time" (1993), "Feminine Gospels" (2002) and "Rapture" (2005).

Duffy also writes picture books for children and plays.

The formal announcement was being made by Andy Burnham, secretary of state for culture, media and sport at the University of Manchester.

The royal post of Poet Laureate, which has been held by the likes of John Dryden, William Wordsworth and, before Motion, Ted Hughes, is awarded to someone whose verse is considered to be of national significance, according to the Poetry Society.

The appointment is made by Queen Elizabeth, acting on the advice of government ministers.

The holder of the title receives an annual honorarium of around £5,750, and Motion earned another £19,000 a year from the government to support his work in education. This sum will not transfer automatically to his successor.

The new appointment is likely to reignite debate among literary circles over whether Britain really needs a Poet Laureate, who is expected to compose poems to mark major state occasions and other national events.

The post is seen by some as a poisoned chalice. Motion, generally viewed as a successful laureate for actively promoting verse, complained last year of suffering from writer's block.

"The pressures and peculiarities of the laureateship, some of which I put myself through, did have a rocky effect on my life," he said in an interview with the Independent newspaper.

"It was a strange mix of making me self-conscious that so few writers are made to feel because of being so public. There is an isolation in being the Poet Laureate."