In September 1946, when he was twenty-four, Philip Larkin went to work as sub-librarian at University College, Leicester. Within three weeks he had met Monica Jones, a lecturer in the English Department. After three years they had become lovers. After another six months Larkin left Leicester for the library at Queen’s University, Belfast, where he stayed for five years, seeing Monica regularly but at widely-spaced intervals. In 1955 he was appointed Librarian at the University of Hull, and remained there for the last thirty years of his life. During this time he and Monica took annual holidays together, met at least once a month, wrote to each other and/or spoke on the telephone nearly every day. The relationship was in certain respects deeply troubled (by jealousies, by distance), and in others very happy. Monica was Larkin’s steadfast companion and his soul-mate. He dedicated The Less Deceived to her: it was the only collection of poems he dedicated to anyone.
Isis in Darkness
Margaret Atwood presents a man pining for his lost love over decades.
Do Not Say We Have Nothing
An extract from Madeleine Thien‘s Man-Booker shortlisted novel.
Zulu Romeo Foxtrot
Douglas Coupland on rock-star font Helvetica.
In Sight of the Lake
A women looks for control in a story by Alice Munro.
A mildewed dystopia from Camilla Grudova.
Hunters in the Snow
‘The hunters have all failed, / the three hunters and their forlorn dogs / now arriving home from the mountain / which thunders above their village’
A Meeting of Minds with Henry David Thoreau
‘What am I doing here more than looking – / which I would stop / only to help things through their vanishing’