Tom Furniss failed O-level English at Sponne School, Towcester in 1970 and later went on to teach English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde for 30 years. In between, he did an apprenticeship in electronic technology at the Allan Clarke Research Centre of the Plessey Company and went on to do a BA, MA and PhD in English Literature at the University of Southampton. At Southampton, along with Ian Gouge, Kate Miller and Jason Best, he joined a writers group run by the writer in residence, John Birtwhistle, and launched and edited an arts magazine, The Definite Article. Play for Three Hands (1981) was a self-published collection of Ian’s, Kate’s and Tom’s poetry, with a perceptive introduction by Jason.
Tom’s books include academic monographs on Edmund Burke and on geological travel writing in Scotland and two co-written textbooks for students – four editions of Ways of Reading (Routledge) and two editions of Reading Poetry (Routledge). In 2019, Cover Story Books published his A Kind of Making: Selected Poems, 1979-2018. Triple Measures: New Poems by K.M. Miller, Ian Gouge, Tom Furniss (Cover Story, 2020) is the long-awaited follow-up to Play for Three Hands. He has also co-edited Berta Lawrence’s Stepping Westward: Selected Poems (Cover Story, 2020). He spends his retirement writing, reading, gardening and looking after his son Aidan. He is currently working on a third edition of Reading Poetry.