Brian Patten made his name in the 1960s as one of the Liverpool Poets, alongside Adrian Henri and Roger McGough. Their main aim was to make poetry immediate and accessible for their audience, and their joint anthology, The Mersey Sound (1967), has been credited as the most significant anthology of the twentieth century for its success in bringing poetry to new audiences, and is now a Penguin Modern Classic.
Brian Patten's poems have since been translated into many European languages.
Brian Patten was born in 1946 in Liverpool, and grew up in a working class neighbourhood, now long demolished. He left school at fifteen, becoming a junior reporter on The Bootle Times, where he wrote a popular music column. One of his first pieces included a report about McGough and Henri. At sixteen he edited and produced the magazine underdog, which gave a platform to the underground poets in Liverpool at that time, and which went on to print the work of international poets such as Allen Ginsberg and Andrei Voznesensky.
His first solo collection was Little Johnny's Confessions 1967, published when he was twenty-one years old. Since then he has published numerous collections, including Vanishing Trick (1976) Armada (1996), which includes some of his most striking poems, focusing on the death of his mother and his memories of childhood. Penguin publish his Selected Poems and Harper Perennial one of his most important books, The Collected Love Poems.
Patten is also well-known for his best-selling poetry collections for children, most famously Gargling with Jelly (1985) and Juggling with Gerbils (2000). His collection for children and adults, The Blue and Green Ark: An Alphabet for Planet Earth, won a Cholmondeley Award in 2002. He has also written a novel for children, Mr Moon's Last Case (1975), which won an award from the Mystery Writers of America Guild. Brian Patten also edits poetry anthologies, most notably The Puffin Book of Modern Children's Verse (2006) His latest book for children is The Big Snuggle-up with illustrations by Nicola Bayley (Andersen Press, 2011) His life story as one of the three Liverpool poets is told by Phil Bowen in A Gallery To Play To: The Story of The Mersey Poets (Liverpool University Press, 2008) and a critical study of his work, Brian Patten, was published by Northcote House in 1997 (Writers and Their Work series.)
He has been honoured with the Freedom of the City of Liverpool and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of both Liverpool University and John Moores University.