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.
Rebecca Giggs watches the slow death of a beached humpback whale.
As a child, Primo Levi discovered the surprising brutality to raising tadpoles.
Witness: Butterflies on a Wheel
Anthony Doerr on the most marvellous thing he's ever seen: the migration of butterflies in Wyoming.
The loss of a cat leads to recollections of other losses in this memoir by Mary Gaitskill.
Hilary Mantel grew up with a dog she called Victor and a brother she called pig.
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’