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.
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Who Killed Tolstoy?
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When Virginia Woolf was thirteen, she was abused by her half-brother George Duckworth. No one believed her – not even her biographers.
A Few Words about Fake Breasts
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The Man Who Lived
Snigdha Poonam reports from India, where rumours spreading over WhatsApp fuel flash mobs, political violence and murder.
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’