Thom Gunn was born in Kent, England to parents who were both journalists. Gunn’s early life was peripatetic; after his parents’ divorce, he traveled with his father to various assignments and attended a number of different schools. His mother committed suicide when Gunn was fifteen. In an interview with the Parish Review Gunn spoke about the effect of his mother’s death: “I was devastated for about four years. I very much retired into myself. I read an enormous number of Victorian novels and eighteenth-century ones too. I read them very much as an escape… I gradually came out of it, but it was a difficult four years or so. I don’t think I knew how difficult they were at the time—luckily—so maybe originally I wrote as a way of getting out of that, but I can’t tell.” After completing his initial schooling, he served in the British Army for two years and then moved to Paris for six months, where he read Proust and wrote fiction. Gunn was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge during the heyday of F.R. Leavis. His first collection of poetry, Fighting Terms (1954) was published the year after he graduated. Gunn’s early poetry—with its unembarrassed presentations of love as interpersonal combat and its focus on the upheavals of war and the freedom of life on the road—was widely praised.