Sir Andrew Motion, FRSL (born 26 October 1952) is an English poet, novelist, and biographer, who was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009. During the period of his laureateship, Motion founded the Poetry Archive, an online resource of poems and audio recordings of poets reading their own work. In 2012, he became President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, taking over from Bill Bryson.
Motion was born on 26 October 1952 in London; his mother was Catherine Gillian Bakewell (known as Gillian) and his father Andrew Richard Michael Motion (known as Richard). The family moved to Stisted, near Braintree in Essex, when Motion was 12 years old. Motion went to boarding school from the age of seven joined by his younger brother. Most of the boy's friends were from the school and when Motion was in the village he spent a lot of time on his own. He began to have an interest and affection for the countryside and he went for walks with a pet dog. Later he went to Radley College, where, in the sixth form, he encountered Peter Way, an inspiring English teacher who introduced him to poetry – first Hardy, then Philip Larkin, W. H. Auden, Heaney, Hughes, Wordsworth and Keats.
When Motion was 17 years old, his mother had a horse riding accident and suffered a serious head injury requiring a life-saving neurosurgery operation. She regained some speech, but she was severely paralysed and remained in and out of coma for nine years. She died in 1978 and her husband died of cancer in 2006. Motion has said that he wrote to keep his memory of his mother alive and that she was a muse of his work. When Motion was about 18 years old he moved away from the village to study English at University College, Oxford; however, since then he has remained in contact with the village to visit the church graveyard, where his parents are buried, and also to see his brother, who lives nearby. At University he studied at weekly sessions with W. H. Auden, whom he greatly admired. Motion won the university's Newdigate Prize and graduated with a first class honours degree.