Ian Fletcher was born in Streatham, London, his parents separating before he was born. He was educated at Dulwich College which he left at the age of 15 to start earning money. He worked as a librarian in Lewisham Public Library and began to write poetry. When war broke out he joined the army and served in the Middle East, latterly in Cairo from 1941-1046. Chronic short-sightedness meant that he was assigned to Propaganda rather than front-line service. Cairo was something of a literary centre at this time and he came into contact with numerous other poets who also became friends, including Bernard Spenser, G.S. Fraser and Ruth Speirs.
After the war Fletcher maintained an interest in making sure that the work of the Second World War poets was not underestimated or forgotten and supported the Salamander Oasis Trust in their production of anthologies. Returning to London after the war, Fletcher returned to librarianship and took an active part in the London literary scene. His first book of poetry was published in 1947. He became a lecturer at the University of Reading where he had a distinguished career. After taking early retirement he took up a post at Arizona State University. He died in 1988.
He was once issued with a service revolver in order to point it at a crowd of hungry Egyptians who, at war’s end, threatened to besiege the local garrison, but the officer issuing the weapon made sure to remove all bullets before handing it to Ian, a man so chronically short-sighted and physically uncoordinated as to pose a real threat to bystanders, be they never so innocent. [John Lucas, Second World War Poetry in English, p. 166]
Photograph of Ian Fletcher: Arizona State University