Philip Larkin

Larkin, Philip, 1922–85, English poet. He graduated from St. John's College, Oxford (B.A., 1943; M.A., 1947) and was for many years librarian at the Univ. of Hull. With an eye for the ordinary and a diction that is profoundly lucid and determinedly plain, Larkin wrote poetry of diminution that quietly exposes the weakness and pretensions of English life. His wit was subtle, delicate, and deadly. Among his volumes of poetry are The North Ship (1946), The Less Deceived (1955), The Whitsun Weddings (1964), and High Windows (1974). Larkin also edited The Oxford Book of Twentieth-Century English Verse (1973). In addition, he published two novels, Jill (1940) and A Girl in Winter (1947); and two collections of critical pieces, All What Jazz: A Record Diary, 1961–1968 (1970) and Required Writing (1983). With the onset of deafness in the 1970s Larkin ceased writing poetry and jazz criticism. Despite a slim body of mature work, Larkin has a secure reputation as one of the finest and most original poets of his era.

See his Collected Poems (rev. ed. 2004, ed. by A. Thwaite), Poems (2011, selected by M. Amis), and Complete Poems (2012, ed. by A. Burnett); A. Thwaite, ed., Selected Letters of Philip Larkin, 1940–1985 (1992) and Letters to Monica (2011); memoir by M. Brennan (2002); biography by A. Motion (1993); studies by L. Kuby (1974), T. Whalen (1986), R. Day (1987), L. Cookson and B. Loughrey, ed. (1989), D. Salwak, ed. (1989), J. Booth (1992), A. Swarbrick (1995), S. Regan, ed. (1997), and J. Booth, ed. (2000).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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