Roger McGough was born in Lanarkshire, England, in 1937, to an Irish Catholic family. After completing Grammar School he attended the University of Hull where he studied both Geography and French. During this time, he was employed as a librarian and began to focus on writing. Early efforts were shared with Philip Larkin, who would himself become a celebrated poet. After graduating, McGough found work as a French instructor. Throughout the 1960s he also embarked upon a musical career, playing as a member of the Scaffolds. McGough honed his lyricism while writing for the band.
McGough experienced his breakout as a poet in 1967, with the Mersey Sound, a collection of poetry featuring writers from Liverpool. Given the fervor surrounding the Beatles and music from the region, the collection was a sensation and successfully introduced McGough to a much larger audience. He would later go on to collaborate with the Beatles in their 1968 film, The Yellow Submarine. He would continue to publish poetry at a prolific rate, amounting to over 30 works since 1965 He was the an Order of the British Empire in 1997. His most recent work, As Far as I Know, was published in 2012. His work is known for its witty humor, wistful musings on childhood and aging, frank discussions of love and heartbreak, and his use of common, everyday language.
The Collected Poems was released in 2003. Unlike many other comprehensive releases of a poet's work, it was not posthumous, as McGough has continued to write the years following. It is also unique in that it does not employ a chronological ordering. It was ordered instead using the various themes that run throughout McGough's work. Several editions were released, including the International Edition in 2005.