Jeremy Noel-Tod

Verse and Worse

Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love

By

Bloomsbury 532pp £25 order from our bookshop

Like the Thatcherite Tories he supported in his later years, Philip Larkin, who died in 1985, has now undergone two decades of detoxification. The contamination was quick and calamitous. Anthony Thwaite’s volume of Selected Letters in 1992 and Andrew Motion’s biography in 1993 both provided ready evidence that Britain’s favourite postwar poet had been – as well as a charming and witty personal intimate – a pornography-hoarding philanderer and casual racist. As he signed off in prophetic mockery to one correspondent: ‘Ooh, Larkin, I’m sorry to find you holding these views.’ 

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