Life and background
Philip Larkin was born in Coventry in August 1922. He has described his childhood, with his domineering father and timid mother, as a "forgotten boredom".
Tall and shortsighted, he grew up self-conscious and shy, developing a stammer at an early age. He did well in school and went to study English at Oxford, where his interest in writing and his love of jazz were nurtured.
On leaving Oxford with flying colours, he took up a post as librarian in a small village in Shropshire, and it was here that he began to write more extensively. He went on to work as a librarian in various colleges and universities, including Queen's University in Belfast and the University of Hull, and he won increasing recognition as a writer.
There were many significant women in his life, but despite a yearning for love and intimacy his relationships seem to have been blighted by fear and indecision, and he appears to have resigned himself to the idea that marriage was not for him. He remained alone and became something of a recluse in later years, growing increasingly melancholic.
In June 1985, he was diagnosed with cancer and he died that same year, on December 2nd. He left behind him a body of work that has won him the accolade of being one of England's finest post-war poets.
Although Larkin seems to have gained a reputation among some critics for being a misanthropic pessimist, his poetry suggests a character far more complex than a label such as this allows. Many of his poems are universally accessible; they deal with subjects relating to everyday life in modern society. Greatly influenced by the work of Thomas Hardy, Larkin believed that it was the poet's duty to record the ordinariness of life in a form that was straightforward and in a language that the reader could relate to.
His poems attempt to achieve this, and they display a frank realism and an acceptance of the way things are. It is easy to see how such realism could be...