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Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin in a library.gif
Photograph by Fay Godwin (1970)
Philip Arthur Larkin

(1922-08-09)9 August 1922
Coventry, England
Died 2 December 1985(1985-12-02) (aged 63)
Resting place Cottingham municipal cemetery
Monuments Bronze statue, Martin Jennings (2010), Hull Paragon Interchange Station
Alma mater St John's College, Oxford
Occupation Poet, librarian, novelist, jazz critic
Employer University of Hull (1955–85)
Notable work
The Whitsun Weddings (1964), High Windows (1974)

Philip Arthur Larkin CH CBE FRSL (9 August 1922 – 2 December 1985) was an English poet, novelist, and librarian. His first book of poetry, The North Ship, was published in 1945, followed by two novels, Jill (1946) and A Girl in Winter (1947), and he came to prominence in 1955 with the publication of his second collection of poems, The Less Deceived, followed by The Whitsun Weddings (1964) and High Windows (1974). He contributed to The Daily Telegraph as its jazz critic from 1961 to 1971, with his articles gathered in All What Jazz: A Record Diary 1961–71 (1985), and edited The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse (1973). His many honours include the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. He was offered, but declined, the position of Poet Laureate in 1984, following the death of Sir John Betjeman.

After graduating from Oxford University in 1943 with a first in English Language and Literature, Larkin became a librarian. It was during the thirty years he worked with distinction as university librarian at the Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull that he produced the greater part of his published work. His poems are marked by what Andrew Motion calls "a very English, glum accuracy" about emotions, places, and relationships, and what Donald Davie described as "lowered sights and diminished expectations". Eric Homberger (echoing Randall Jarrell) called him "the saddest heart in the post-war supermarket"—Larkin himself said that deprivation for him was "what daffodils were for Wordsworth". Influenced by W. H. Auden, W. B. Yeats, and Thomas Hardy, his poems are highly structured but flexible verse forms. They were described by Jean Hartley, the ex-wife of Larkin's publisher George Hartley (the Marvell Press), as a "piquant mixture of lyricism and discontent", though anthologist Keith Tuma writes that there is more to Larkin's work than its reputation for dour pessimism suggests.

Larkin's public persona was that of the no-nonsense, solitary Englishman who disliked fame and had no patience for the trappings of the public literary life. Larkin was chosen in a 2003 Poetry Book Society survey, almost two decades after his death, as Britain's best-loved poet of the previous 50 years, and in 2008 The Times named him Britain's greatest post-war writer.

In 1973 a Coventry Evening Telegraph reviewer referred to Larkin as "the bard of Coventry", but in 2010, 25 years after his death, it was Larkin's adopted home city, Kingston upon Hull, that commemorated him with the Larkin 25 Festival which culminated in the unveiling of a statue of Larkin by Martin Jennings on 2 December 2010, the 25th anniversary of his death. On 2 December 2016, the 31st anniversary of his death, a floor stone memorial for Larkin was unveiled at Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.


Early life and education

Philip Larkin was born on 9 August 1922 at 2, Poultney Road, Radford, Coventry, the only son and younger child of Sydney Larkin (1884–1948) and his wife Eva Emily (1886–1977), daughter of first-class excise officer William James Day. Sydney Larkin's family originated in Kent, but had lived since at least the eighteenth century at Lichfield, Staffordshire, where they were in trade first as tailors, then also as coach-builders and shoe-makers. The Day family were of Epping, Essex, but moved to Leigh in Lancashire in 1914 where William Day took a post administering pensions and other dependent allowances.

The Larkin family lived in the district of Radford, Coventry, until Larkin was five years old, before moving to a large three-storey middle-class house complete with servants’ quarters near Coventry railway station and King Henry VIII School, in Manor Road. Having survived the bombings of the Second World War, their former house in Manor Road was demolished in the 1960s to make way for a road modernisation programme, the construction of an inner ring road. His sister Catherine, known as Kitty, was 10 years older than he was. His father, a self-made man who had risen to be Coventry City Treasurer, was a singular individual, 'nihilistically disillusioned in middle age', who combined a love of literature with an enthusiasm for Nazism, and had attended two Nuremberg rallies during the mid-1930s. He introduced his son to the works of Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce and above all D. H. Lawrence. His mother was a nervous and passive woman, "a kind of defective mechanism...Her ideal is 'to collapse' and to be taken care of", dominated by her husband.

Spinny -Poultney Road -Coventry 28y08
Larkin's parents' former Radford council house overlooking a small spinney, once their garden (photo 2008)

Larkin's early childhood was in some respects unusual: he was educated at home until the age of eight by his mother and sister, neither friends nor relatives ever visited the family home, and he developed a stammer. Nonetheless, when he joined Coventry's King Henry VIII Junior School he fitted in immediately and made close, long-standing friendships, such as those with James "Jim" Sutton, Colin Gunner and Noel "Josh" Hughes. Although home life was relatively cold, Larkin enjoyed support from his parents. For example, his deep passion for jazz was supported by the purchase of a drum kit and a saxophone, supplemented by a subscription to DownBeat. From the junior school he progressed to King Henry VIII Senior School. He fared quite poorly when he sat his School Certificate exam at the age of 16. Despite his results, he was allowed to stay on at school; two years later he earned distinctions in English and History, and passed the entrance exams for St John's College, Oxford, to read English.

Larkin began at Oxford University in October 1940, a year after the outbreak of the Second World War. The old upper-class traditions of university life had, at least for the time being, faded, and most of the male students were studying for highly truncated degrees. Due to his poor eyesight, Larkin failed his military medical examination and was able to study for the usual three years. Through his tutorial partner, Norman Iles, he met Kingsley Amis, who encouraged his taste for ridicule and irreverence and who remained a close friend throughout Larkin's life. Amis, Larkin and other university friends formed a group they dubbed "The Seven", meeting to discuss each other's poetry, listen to jazz, and drink enthusiastically. During this time he had his first real social interaction with the opposite sex, but made no romantic headway. In 1943 he sat his finals, and, having dedicated much of his time to his own writing, was greatly surprised at being awarded a first-class honours degree.

Early career and relationships

In 1943 Larkin was appointed librarian of the public library in Wellington, Shropshire. It was while working there that in early 1944 he met his first girlfriend, Ruth Bowman, an academically ambitious 16-year-old schoolgirl. In 1945, Ruth went to continue her studies at King's College London. By June 1946, Larkin was halfway through qualifying for membership of the Library Association and was appointed assistant librarian at University College, Leicester. It was visiting Larkin in Leicester and witnessing the university's Senior Common Room that gave Kingsley Amis the inspiration to write Lucky Jim (1954), the novel that made Amis famous and to whose long gestation Larkin contributed considerably. Six weeks after his father's death from cancer in March 1948, Larkin proposed to Ruth, and that summer the couple spent their annual holiday touring Hardy country.

In June 1950 Larkin was appointed sub-librarian at The Queen's University of Belfast, a post he took up that September. Before his departure he and Ruth split up. At some stage between the appointment to the position at Queen's and the end of the engagement to Ruth, Larkin developed a friendship with Monica Jones, a lecturer in English at Leicester. He spent five years in Belfast, which appear to have been the most contented of his life. From 1951 onwards Larkin holidayed with Jones in various locations around the British Isles.

Philip Larkin -Flat in Hull 1
This second-floor flat overlooking Pearson Park in Hull was Larkin's rented accommodation from 1956 to 1974 (photo 2008).

In 1955 Larkin became University Librarian at the University of Hull, a post he held until his death. Professor R. L. Brett, who was chairman of the library committee that appointed him and a friend, wrote, "At first I was impressed with the time he spent in his office, arriving early and leaving late. It was only later that I realised that his office was also his study where he spent hours on his private writing as well as the work of the library. Then he would return home and on a good many evenings start writing again." For his first year he lodged in bedsits. In 1956, at the age of 34, he rented a self-contained flat on the top-floor of 32 Pearson Park, a three-storey red-brick house overlooking the park, previously the American Consulate. This, it seems, was the vantage point later commemorated in the poem High Windows. Of the city itself Larkin commented: "I never thought about Hull until I was here. Having got here, it suits me in many ways. It is a little on the edge of things, I think even its natives would say that. I rather like being on the edge of things. One doesn't really go anywhere by design, you know, you put in for jobs and move about, you know, I've lived in other places." In the post-war years, Hull University underwent significant expansion, as was typical of British universities during that period. When Larkin took up his appointment there, the plans for a new university library were already far advanced. He made a great effort in just a few months to familiarize himself with them before they were placed before the University Grants Committee; he suggested a number of emendations, some major and structural, all of which were adopted. It was built in two stages, and in 1967 it was named the Brynmor Jones Library after Sir Brynmor Jones, the university's vice-chancellor.

One of Larkin's colleagues at Hull said he became a great figure in post-war British librarianship. Ten years after the new library's completion, Larkin computerized records for the entire library stock, making it the first library in Europe to install a Geac computer system, an automated online circulation system. Richard Goodman wrote that Larkin excelled as an administrator, committee man and arbitrator. "He treated his staff decently, and he motivated them", Goodman said. "He did this with a combination of efficiency, high standards, humour and compassion." He rejected the Net Book Agreement. From 1957 until his death, Larkin's secretary was Betty Mackereth. All access to him by his colleagues was through her, and she came to know as much about Larkin's compartmentalized life as anyone. During his 30 years there, the library's stock sextupled, and the budget expanded from £4,500 to £448,500, in real terms a twelvefold increase.

Later life

In February 1961 Larkin's friendship with his colleague Maeve Brennan became romantic, despite her strong Roman Catholic beliefs. In early 1963 Brennan persuaded him to go with her to a dance for university staff, despite his preference for smaller gatherings. This seems to have been a pivotal moment in their relationship, and he memorialised it in his longest (and unfinished) poem "The Dance". Around this time, also at her prompting, Larkin learnt to drive and bought a car – his first, a Singer Gazelle. Meanwhile, Monica Jones, whose parents had died in 1959, bought a holiday cottage in Haydon Bridge, near Hexham, which she and Larkin visited regularly. His poem "Show Saturday" is a description of the 1973 Bellingham show in the North Tyne valley.

In 1964, following the publication of The Whitsun Weddings, Larkin was the subject of an edition of the arts programme Monitor, directed by Patrick Garland. The programme, which shows him being interviewed by fellow poet John Betjeman in a series of locations in and around Hull, allowed Larkin to play a significant part in the creation of his own public persona; one he would prefer his readers to imagine.

In 1968, Larkin was offered the OBE, which he declined. Later in life he accepted the offer of being made a Companion of Honour.

Larkin's role in the creation of Hull University's new Brynmor Jones Library had been important and demanding. Soon after the completion of the second and larger phase of construction in 1969, he was able to redirect his energies. In October 1970, he started to work on compiling a new anthology, The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse (1973). He was awarded a Visiting Fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford, for two academic terms, allowing him to consult Oxford's Bodleian Library, a copyright library. While he was in Oxford he passed responsibility for the Library to his deputy, Brenda Moon. Larkin was a major contributor to the re-evaluation of the poetry of Thomas Hardy, which, in comparison to his novels, had been overlooked. There were twenty-seven poems by Hardy, compared with only nine by T. S. Eliot (however, Eliot is most famous for long poems); the other poets most extensively represented were W. B. Yeats, W. H. Auden and Rudyard Kipling.

Philip Larkin -house in Hull 1
105 Newland Park, Hull, was Larkin's home from 1974 to his death in 1985 (photo 2008).

In 1971, Larkin regained contact with his schoolfriend Colin Gunner, who had led a picturesque life. Their subsequent correspondence has gained notoriety as Larkin expressed right-wing views and used racist language. In the period from 1973 to 1974, Larkin became an Honorary Fellow of St John's College, Oxford, and was awarded honorary degrees by Warwick, St Andrews and Sussex universities. In January 1974, Hull University informed Larkin that they were going to dispose of the building on Pearson Park in which he lived. Shortly afterwards he bought a detached two-storey 1950s house in Newland Park which was described by his university colleague John Kenyon as "an entirely middle-class backwater". Larkin, who moved into the house in June, thought the four-bedroom property "utterly undistinguished" and reflected, "I can't say it's the kind of dwelling that is eloquent of the nobility of the human spirit".

Shortly after splitting up with Maeve Brennan in August 1973, Larkin attended W. H. Auden's memorial service at Christ Church, Oxford, with Monica Jones as his official partner. In March 1975, the relationship with Brennan restarted, and three weeks after this he initiated a secret affair with Betty Mackereth, who served as his secretary for 28 years, writing the long-undiscovered poem "We met at the end of the party" for her. Despite the logistical difficulties of having three relationships simultaneously, the situation continued until March 1978. From then on he and Jones were a monogamous couple.

In 1976, Larkin was the guest of Roy Plomley on BBC's Desert Island Discs. His choice of music included "Dallas Blues" by Louis Armstrong, Spem in alium by Thomas Tallis and the Symphony No. 1 in A flat major by Edward Elgar. His favourite piece was "I'm Down in the Dumps" by Bessie Smith.

In December 2010, as part of the commemorations of the 25th anniversary of Larkin's death, the BBC broadcast a programme entitled Philip Larkin and the Third Woman focusing on his affair with Mackereth in which she spoke for the first time about their relationship. It included a reading of a newly discovered secret poem, Dear Jake, and revealed that Mackereth was one of the inspirations for his writings.

Final years and death

Larkin turned sixty in 1982. This was marked most significantly by a collection of essays entitled Larkin at Sixty, edited by Anthony Thwaite and published by Faber and Faber. There were also two television programmes: an episode of The South Bank Show presented by Melvyn Bragg in which Larkin made off-camera contributions, and a half-hour special on the BBC that was devised and presented by the Labour Shadow Cabinet Minister Roy Hattersley.

In 1983, Jones was hospitalised with shingles, a skin rash. The severity of her symptoms, including its effects on her eyes, distressed Larkin. As her health declined, regular care became necessary: within a month she moved into his Newland Park home and remained there for the rest of her life.

Philip Larkin -headstone at Cottingham municipal cemetery, near Hull, England-24May2008
Headstone marking Larkin's grave at Cottingham municipal cemetery, Cottingham, East Riding of Yorkshire

At the memorial service for John Betjeman, who died in July 1984, Larkin was asked if he would accept the post of Poet Laureate. He declined, not least because he felt he had long since ceased to be a writer of poetry in a meaningful sense. The following year, Larkin began to suffer from oesophageal cancer. On 11 June 1985, he underwent surgery, but his cancer was found to have spread and was inoperable. On 28 November, he collapsed and was readmitted to hospital. He died four days later, on 2 December 1985, at the age of 63, and was buried at Cottingham municipal cemetery near Hull.

Larkin had asked on his deathbed that his diaries be destroyed. The request was granted by Jones, the main beneficiary of his will, and Betty Mackereth; the latter shredded the unread diaries page by page, then had them burned. His will was found to be contradictory regarding his other private papers and unpublished work; legal advice left the issue to the discretion of his literary executors, who decided the material should not be destroyed. When she died on 15 February 2001, Jones, in turn, left £1 million to St Paul's Cathedral, Hexham Abbey and Durham Cathedral. Larkin is commemorated with a green plaque on The Avenues, Kingston upon Hull.

Creative output

Juvenilia and early works

From his mid-teens, Larkin "wrote ceaselessly", producing both poetry, initially modelled on Eliot and W. H. Auden, and fiction: he wrote five full-length novels, each of which he destroyed shortly after their completion. While he was at Oxford University, his first published poem, "Ultimatum", appeared in The Listener. He developed a pseudonymous alter ego in this period for his prose: Brunette Coleman. Under this name he wrote two novellas, Trouble at Willow Gables and Michaelmas Term at St Brides (2002), as well as a supposed autobiography and an equally fictitious creative manifesto called "What we are writing for".

After these works, Larkin began to write his first published novel Jill (1946). Immediately after completing Jill, Larkin started work on the novel A Girl in Winter (1947), completing it in 1945. This was published by Faber and Faber and was well received, The Sunday Times calling it "an exquisite performance and nearly faultless". Subsequently, he made at least three concerted attempts at writing a third novel, but none developed beyond a solid start.

Mature works

William Butler Yeat by George Charles Beresford
William Butler Yeats, whose poetry was an influence on Larkin in the mid-1940s

It was during Larkin's five years in Belfast that he reached maturity as a poet. The bulk of his next published collection of poems, The Less Deceived (1955), was written there, though eight of the twenty-nine poems included were from the late 1940s. This period also saw Larkin make his final attempts at writing prose fiction, and he gave extensive help to Kingsley Amis with Lucky Jim, which was Amis's first published novel. In October 1954 an article in The Spectator made the first use of the title The Movement to describe the dominant trend in British post-war literature. Poems by Larkin were included in a 1953 PEN Anthology that also featured poems by Amis and Robert Conquest, and Larkin was seen to be a part of this grouping. In 1951, Larkin compiled a collection called XX Poems which he had privately printed in a run of just 100 copies. Many of the poems in it subsequently appeared in his next published volume.

In November 1955, The Less Deceived, was published by the Marvell Press, an independent company in Hessle near Hull (dated October). At first the volume attracted little attention, but in December it was included in The Times' list of Books of the Year. From this point, the book's reputation spread and sales blossomed throughout 1956 and 1957. During his first five years in Hull, the pressures of work slowed Larkin's output to an average of just two-and-a-half poems a year, but this period saw the writing of some of his best-known poems, such as "An Arundel Tomb", "The Whitsun Weddings" and "Here".

In 1963, Faber and Faber reissued Jill. This acted as a prelude to the publication the following year of The Whitsun Weddings, the volume which cemented his reputation; a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Literature was granted to Larkin almost immediately. In the years that followed, Larkin wrote several of his most best-known poems, followed in the 1970s by a series of longer and more sober poems, including "The Building" and "The Old Fools". All of these appeared in Larkin's final collection, High Windows, which was published in June 1974.

Later in 1974 he started work on his final major published poem, "Aubade". It was completed in 1977 and published in 23 December issue of The Times Literary Supplement. After "Aubade" Larkin wrote only one poem that has attracted close critical attention, the posthumously published and intensely personal "Love Again".

Poetic style

Larkin's poetry has been characterized as combining "an ordinary, colloquial style", "clarity", a "quiet, reflective tone", "ironic understatement" and a "direct" engagement with "commonplace experiences", while Jean Hartley summed his style up as a "piquant mixture of lyricism and discontent".

Larkin's earliest work showed the influence of Eliot, Auden and Yeats, and the development of his mature poetic identity in the early 1950s coincided with the growing influence on him of Thomas Hardy. The "mature" Larkin style, first evident in The Less Deceived, is "that of the detached, sometimes lugubrious, sometimes tender observer", who, in Hartley's phrase, looks at "ordinary people doing ordinary things". He disparaged poems that relied on "shared classical and literary allusions – what he called the myth-kitty, and the poems are never cluttered with elaborate imagery." Larkin's mature poetic persona is notable for its "plainness and scepticism". Other recurrent features of his mature work are sudden openings and "highly-structured but flexible verse forms".

Thomashardy restored
The poetry of Thomas Hardy was the influence that helped Larkin reach his mature style.

Terence Hawkes has argued that while most of the poems in The North Ship are "metaphoric in nature, heavily indebted to Yeats's symbolist lyrics", the subsequent development of Larkin's mature style is "not ... a movement from Yeats to Hardy, but rather a surrounding of the Yeatsian moment (the metaphor) within a Hardyesque frame". In Hawkes's view, "Larkin's poetry ... revolves around two losses": the "loss of modernism", which manifests itself as "the desire to find a moment of epiphany", and "the loss of England, or rather the loss of the British Empire, which requires England to define itself in its own terms when previously it could define 'Englishness' in opposition to something else."

In 1972, Larkin wrote the oft-quoted "Going, Going", a poem which expresses a romantic fatalism in its view of England that was typical of his later years. In it he prophesies a complete destruction of the countryside, and expresses an idealised sense of national togetherness and identity: "And that will be England gone ... it will linger on in galleries; but all that remains for us will be concrete and tyres". The poem ends with the blunt statement, "I just think it will happen, soon."

Larkin's style is bound up with his recurring themes and subjects, which include death and fatalism, as in his final major poem "Aubade". Poet Andrew Motion observes of Larkin's poems: "their rage or contempt is always checked by the ... energy of their language and the satisfactions of their articulate formal control". Motion contrasts two aspects of his poetic personality—on the one hand, an enthusiasm for "symbolist moments" and "freely imaginative narratives", and on the other a "remorseless factuality" and "crudity of language". Motion defines this as a "life-enhancing struggle between opposites", and concludes that his poetry is typically "ambivalent": "His three mature collections have developed attitudes and styles of ... imaginative daring: in their prolonged debates with despair, they testify to wide sympathies, contain passages of frequently transcendent beauty, and demonstrate a poetic inclusiveness which is of immense consequence for his literary heirs."

Prose non-fiction

Larkin was a critic of modernism in contemporary art and literature. His scepticism is at its most nuanced and illuminating in Required Writing, a collection of his book reviews and essays, and at its most inflamed and polemical in his introduction to his collected jazz reviews, All What Jazz, drawn from the 126 record-review columns he wrote for The Daily Telegraph between 1961 and 1971, which contains an attack on modern jazz that widens into a wholesale critique of modernism in the arts. Larkin (not unwillingly) acquired a reputation as an enemy of modernism, but recent critical assessments of Larkin's writings have identified them as possessing some modernist characteristics.

Fiction based on Larkin's life

In 1999, Oliver Ford Davies starred in Ben Brown's play Larkin With Women at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, reprising his role at the Orange Tree Theatre, London, in 2006. The play was published by Larkin's usual publishers, Faber and Faber. Set in the three decades after Larkin's arrival in Hull, it explores his long relationships with Monica Jones, Maeve Brennan and Betty Mackereth. Another Larkin-inspired entertainment, devised by and starring Sir Tom Courtenay, was given a pre-production performance on the afternoon of Saturday 29 June 2002 at Hull University's Middleton Hall. Courtenay performed his one-man play Pretending to Be Me as part of the Second Hull International Conference on the Work of Philip Larkin. In November that year, Courtenay debuted the play at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, later transferring the production to the Comedy Theatre in London's West End. An audio recording of the play, which is based on Larkin's letters, interviews, diaries and verse, was released in 2005. In June 2010, Courtenay returned to the University of Hull to give a performance of a newly revised version of Pretending to Be Me called Larkin Revisited in aid of the Larkin statue appeal as part of the Larkin 25 festival.

In July 2003, BBC Two broadcast a play entitled Love Again—its title also that of one of Larkin's most painfully personal poems—dealing with the last thirty years of Larkin's life (though not shot anywhere near Hull). The lead role was played by Hugh Bonneville, and in the same year Channel 4 broadcast the documentary Philip Larkin, Love and Death in Hull.

In April 2008, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a play by Chris Harrald entitled Mr Larkin's Awkward Day, recounting the practical joke played on him in 1957 by his friend Robert Conquest, a fellow poet.

Philip Larkin Society

The Philip Larkin Society is a charitable organization dedicated to preserving the memory and works of Philip Larkin. It was formed in 1995 on the tenth anniversary of Larkin's death, and achieved charity status in the United Kingdom in 2000. Anthony Thwaite, one of Larkin's literary executors, was the society's president until his death in 2021. Professor Eddie Dawes and Professor James Booth are Honorary Vice-Presidents and Honorary Life Members. The current Society president is Rosie Millard OBE. The Society's Chair is Graham Chesters and Deputy Chair is Lyn Lockwood.

The society carries out various activities, such as lectures, walking tours and events for Larkin and his literary contemporaries. It hosted the Larkin 25 art festival from June to December 2010 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Larkin's death and in 2016 Larkin's commemoration in Poet's Corner Westminster Abbey.


Memorials to Larkin in Kingston upon Hull, where he worked and wrote much of his poetry, are the Larkin Building at the University of Hull housing teaching facilities and lecture rooms and the Philip Larkin Centre for Poetry and Creative Writing which hosts a regular programme of literary events.

In May 2022 Larkin's childhood school, King Henry VIII School, dedicated a memorial room, called 'The Philip Larkin Room', next to the main school hall, otherwise known as Burgess Hall.

In 2010, the city marked the 25th anniversary of his death with the Larkin 25 Festival. A video was commissioned to illustrate Larkin's poem "Here", his hymn to Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire. Forty decorated toad sculptures entitled "Larkin with Toads" were displayed in the city in tribute to Larkin's poem "Toads" on 17 July 2010. A larger-than-life-size bronze statue of Larkin by sculptor Martin Jennings was unveiled at Hull Paragon Interchange on 2 December 2010, closing the Larkin 25 events. It is inscribed, "That Whitsun I was late getting away", from the poem, The Whitsun Weddings. Funding for the £100,000 statue, designed by Martin Jennings, was raised at charity events and auctions with support from Hull City Council. The unveiling was accompanied by Nathaniel Seaman's Fanfare for Larkin, composed for the occasion. Five plaques containing Larkin's poems were added to the floor near the statue in 2011. In December 2012, a memorial bench was installed around a pillar near the statue.

In June 2015, it was announced that Larkin would be honoured with a floor stone memorial at Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. The memorial was unveiled on 2 December 2016, the 31st anniversary of his death. Actor Sir Tom Courtenay and artist Grayson Perry both read from Larkin's work during the unveiling ceremony and an address was given by poet and author Blake Morrison. The memorial includes two lines quoted from his poem "An Arundel Tomb":

From 5 July to 1 October 2017, as part of the Hull UK City of Culture 2017 celebrations, the Brynmor Jones Library at Hull University mounted the exhibition "Larkin: New Eyes Each Year". It featured objects from Larkin's life, as well as his personal collection of books from his last home at Newland Park, in the original shelf order in which he had Larkin arranged them. Also in 2017, in the Burgess district of Coventry, the pub known as The Tudor Rose was renamed The Philip Larkin.

List of works


  • The North Ship. The Fortune Press. 1945. ISBN 978-0-571-10503-8.
  • XX Poems. Privately Printed. 1951.
  • The Less Deceived. The Marvell Press. 1955. ISBN 978-0-900533-06-8.
    • "Church Going"
    • "Toads"
    • "Maiden Name"
    • "Born Yesterday" (written for the birth of Sally Amis)
    • "Lines on a Young Lady's Photograph Album"
  • The Whitsun Weddings. Faber and Faber. 1964. ISBN 978-0-571-09710-4.
    • "The Whitsun Weddings"
    • "An Arundel Tomb"
    • "A Study of Reading Habits"
    • "Home is So Sad"
    • "Mr Bleaney"
  • High Windows. Faber and Faber. 1974. ISBN 978-0-571-11451-1.
    • "This Be The Verse"
    • "Annus Mirabilis"
    • "The Explosion"
    • "The Building"
    • "High Windows"
  • Thwaite, Anthony, ed. (1988). Collected Poems. Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-15386-0.
    • "Aubade" (first published 1977)
    • "Party Politics" (last published poem)
    • "The Dance" (unfinished & unpublished)
    • "Love Again" (unpublished)
  • Thwaite, Anthony, ed. (2003). Collected Poems. Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-21654-3.
    • The North Ship
    • The Less Deceived
    • The Whitsun Weddings
    • High Windows
    • Two appendices of all other published poems, including XX Poems
  • Burnett, Archie, ed. (2012), The Complete Poems, Faber and Faber, ISBN: 978-0-571-24006-7


  • Jill. The Fortune Press. 1946. ISBN 978-0-571-22582-8.
  • A Girl in Winter. Faber and Faber. 1947. ISBN 978-0-571-22581-1.
  • James Booth, ed. (2002). "Trouble at Willow Gables" and Other Fiction 1943–1953. Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-20347-7.


  • All What Jazz: A Record Diary 1961–1971. Faber and Faber. 1985. ISBN 978-0-571-13476-2.
  • Required Writing: Miscellaneous Pieces 1955–1982. Faber and Faber. 1983. ISBN 978-0-571-13120-4.
  • Further Requirements: Interviews, Broadcasts, Statements and Book Reviews 1952–1985. Faber and Faber. 2001. ISBN 978-0-571-21614-7.
  • Larkin, Philip (1979). "The Brynmor Jones Library 1929–1979". In Brennan, Maeve. 'A Lifted Study-Storehouse': The Brynmor Jones Library 1929–1979, updated to 1985. Hull University Press. 1987. ISBN 0-85958-561-1.
  • Larkin, Philip, ed. (1973). The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-812137-4.
  • Thwaite, Anthony, ed. (1992). Selected Letters of Philip Larkin, 1940–1985. Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-17048-X.
  • Thwaite, Anthony, ed. (2010). Letters to Monica. Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-23909-9.

See also

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