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Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin (1922-1985), English poet and jazz critic.

Attended St. John's College, Oxford after graduating from King Henry VIII School[?] in Coventry, where he was born to Sydney and Eva Larkin.

Soon after graduation he applied for, and won, the position of Librarian at Wellington, in Shropshire, in late 1943. In 1946, Larkin became Assistant Librarian at the University College of Leicester; in March of 1955, he became Librarian at the University of Hull[?]. He remained in this position for most of the rest of his life. Besides poems he published two novels Jill (1946) and A Girl in Winter (1947) and several essays.

Reclusive librarian for many years. His early work shows the influence of Yeats, but his later poetic identity was influenced mainly by Thomas Hardy.

Well-known for his use of slang and coarse language in his poetry, partly balanced by a similarly antique word choice. Good use of enjambent and rhyme; his poetry is highly structured.

The Less Deceived, published in 1955, marked Larkin as an up-and-coming poet. He was for a time associated with The Movement.

1964's The Whitsun Weddings confirmed his reputation. The title poem is a masterful depiction of the sights from a train one Whitsun; though this description does the poem little justice. High Windows, released in 1974, still stands as one of the greatest books of 20th century British poetry.

Larkin is largely responsible for the current status of Thomas Hardy, due to his editing of The Oxford Book of Twentieth-Century English Verse (1973).

Well-known Poems

  • "Church Going" (Read the poem (http://www.artofeurope.com/larkin/lar5.htm))
  • "Aubade"
  • "Ambulances"
  • "A Study of Reading Habits"
  • "The Whitsun Weddings"
  • "Annus Mirabilis" (Read the whole poem (http://alt.venus.co.uk/weed/writings/poems/plam.htm))
  • "This Be The Verse" (Read the whole poem (http://www.apocalypse.org/pub/u/hilda/larkin))


  • The Less Deceived (1955)
  • The Whitsun Weddings (1964)
  • The Oxford Book of Twentieth-Century English Verse (Editor) (1973)
  • High Windows (1974)

External Link

http://www.philiplarkin.com/ (The Philip Larkin Society)

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