He was an English poet, lecturer, actor, broadcaster and columnist. His father was the ITMA scriptwriter, Ted Kavanagh.
PJ Kavanagh first worked as a Butlin’s Redcoat, then as a newsreader for Radiodiffusion Francaise, in Paris.
He attended acting classes but was called up for his National Service, and was wounded in the Korean War.
While studying at Merton College, Oxford, and starting to write poetry, he met and later married Sally Philipps, the daughter of novelist Rosamond Lehmann.
She died of poliomyelitis while they were living in Java, where he was teaching for the British Council.
His memoir about their relationship, The Perfect Stranger, won the Richard Hillary Memorial Prize. Since then, he has been known as a writer and broadcaster.
He published several volumes of poetry: One And One, On The Way To The Depot, About Time, Edward Thomas in Heaven, Life Before Death and An Enchantment and Something About.
There were collections: Selected Poems, Presences: New And Selected Poems, and Collected Poems. In 1992 he was given the Cholmondeley Award for poetry.
Kavanagh’s first novel A Song and Dance, was awarded the Guardian Fiction Prize, thereafter he has written three further novels A Happy Man, People and Weather, and Only By Mistake, and two novels for children: Scarf Jack and Rebel for Good.
He published a collection of essays and articles People and Places: A Selection 1975-1987, a travel autobiography Finding Connections, and a literary companion Voices in Ireland.
Kavanagh was editor of Collected Poems of Ivor Gurney, The Bodley Head G.K.Chesterton, The Essential G.K.Chesterton, The Oxford Book of Short Poems (with James Michie) and A Book of Consolations.
He was a columnist for The Spectator from 1983 to 1996 and then for The Times Literary Supplement until 2002.
Kavanagh co-presented the programme Poetry Please on BBC Radio 4. His acting roles included the films Half Moon Street and Hidden Agenda, television appearances in Journey Through Summer and as the nazi-memorabilia-collecting Father Seamus Fitzpatrick in the episode of Father Ted “Are You Right There, Father Ted?”.
He was married, with two children, and has lived in Gloucestershire since 1963.
English poet P. J. Kavanagh died on August 26, 2015 at age 84.