The Faber Shop has reopened. Browse our curated selection of books and discover exclusive products for Faber Members.

Philip Larkin: Letters Home

Philip Larkin: Letters Home

ISBN
9780571335596
Published
01/11/2018
9780571335596
Format
Hardback
Price
£40.00
Paperback
688

About the Book

Letters Home gives access to the last major archive of Larkin’s writing to remain unpublished: the letters to members of his family. These correspondences help tell the story of how Larkin came to be the writer and the man he was: to his father Sydney, a 'conservative anarchist' and admirer of Hitler, who died relatively early in Larkin’s life; to his timid, depressive mother Eva, who by contrast lived long, and whose final years were shadowed by dementia; and to his sister Kitty, the sparse surviving fragment of whose correspondence with her brother gives an enigmatic glimpse of a complex and intimate relationship. In particular, it was the years during which he and his sister looked after their mother that shaped the writer we know so well: a number of poems written over this time are for her, and the mood of pain, shadow and despondency that characterises his later verse draws its strength from his experience of the long, lonely years of her senility. One surprising element in the volume, however, is the joie de vivre shown in the large number of witty and engaging drawings of himself and Eva, as 'Young Creature' and 'Old Creature', with which he enlivens his letters throughout the three decades of her widowhood.

This important edition, meticulously edited by James Booth is a key piece of scholarship that completes the portrait of this most cherished of English poets.

Letters Home gives access to the last major archive of Larkin’s writing to remain unpublished: the letters to members of his family. These correspondences help tell the story of how Larkin came to be the writer and the man he was: to his father Sydney, a 'conservative anarchist' and admirer of Hitler, who died relatively early in Larkin’s life; to his timid, depressive mother Eva, who by contrast lived long, and whose final years were shadowed by dementia; and to his sister Kitty, the sparse surviving fragment of whose correspondence with her brother gives an enigmatic glimpse of a complex and intimate relationship. In particular, it was the years during which he and his sister looked after their mother that shaped the writer we know so well: a number of poems written over this time are for her, and the mood of pain, shadow and despondency that characterises his later verse draws its strength from his experience of the long, lonely years of her senility. One surprising element in the volume, however, is the joie de vivre shown in the large number of witty and engaging drawings of himself and Eva, as 'Young Creature' and 'Old Creature', with which he enlivens his letters throughout the three decades of her widowhood.This important edition, meticulously edited by James Booth is a key piece of scholarship that completes the portrait of this most cherished of English poets.
  • Philip Larkin

    Philip Larkin was born in Coventry in 1922 and was educated at King Henry VIII School, Coventry, and St John's College, Oxford. As well as his volumes of poems, which include The Whitsun Weddings and High Windows, he wrote two novels, Jill and A Girl in Winter, and two books of collected journalism: All What Jazz: A Record Diary, and Required Writing: Miscellaneous Prose. He worked as a librarian at the University of Hull from 1955 until his death in 1985. He was the best-loved poet of his generation, and the recipient of innumerable honours, including the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, and the WHSmith Award.

“‘Philip Larkin’s “They fuck you up, your Mum and Dad”, probably his best-known line…has encouraged the idea that he had an unhappy childhood…James Booth’s superbly edited selection of previously unpublished Larkin family letters sweeps these illusions away…More than five hundred pages of new writing by our greatest modern poet would be a treasure whatever they contained. But in the end these letters are uplifting because they are the record of more than 30 years of trying to make someone else happy.’”
- John Carey, Sunday Times
“‘Although Larkin might express intense irritation to outsiders, the fact is he visited his mother twice a month …He wrote at least a postcard every day. Despite his protestations Larkin was obviously devoted and I found the correspondence in his book mesmerising. It is like a dialogue composed by (and starring) Alan Bennett and Victoria Wood…This book’s account of emotional claustrophobia, bitter cruelty and the absolute blunt refusal to be happy and fulfilled , pared down by James Booth from more than 8,000 items in the Hull History Centre, is essential reading for Larkin addicts.’”
- Roger Lewis, The Times

Books by this Author

Poetry The North Ship

The North Ship

Philip Larkin

Poetry High Windows

High Windows

Philip Larkin