Voted Britain's favourite poem in 1996, 'Warning', written in 1961, is known and loved the world over. Its declaration of defiance, so vividly and cleverly expressed, appeals to the rebel in all of us as we secretly yearn to throw off the shackles of propriety and enjoy the gleeful freedom of cocking a snook at the rest of the world.
In the poem's respectable middle-aged woman, as she indulges in her fantasy of the gabby old crone with her outrageous clothes and dotty behaviour, Jenny Joseph has created a character whose thoughts have been quoted at conferences and funerals, used to cheer up sick friends, remembered with pleasure by children and adults alike. Found in schoolbooks from Alaska to Singapore, the poem has been stitched, stamped, quilted, set to music, printed on cards, written on cakes and made into films.
Now, for the first time, 'Warning' appears as an illustrated book with drawings by Pythia Ashton-Jewell specially designed to suit its unique character.