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This report is taken from PN Review 119, Volume 24 Number 3, January - February 1998.

New Larkins for Old Howard Osborn

(First International Conference on the work of Philip Larkin, under the auspices of The Philip Larkin Society, The Lawns Centre, Cottingham, 27-29 June 1997)

The Aladdin reference was puzzling at first. Was the old Larkin so battered and disreputable that he needed trading in? What strange process of fission enabled him to multiply in this way? And who was making this intriguing offer?

The latter proved to be a fusion of The Philip Larkin Society and the University of Hull, a pairing that had a most beneficial effect on the atmosphere at the Conference. This was not the usual gathering of academics talking to other academics about each other's work - the delegates here included many for whom Larkin was not PhD fodder but a man who had written some rather good poems. The air was heavy with enthusiasm, and consequently invigorating.

This is not to say that the conference was in any sense amateurish. On the contrary, amongst the 120-or-so delegates present were most of the 'big names' in the field of Larkin studies. Billing itself as the 'first international conference on the work of Philip Larkin' proved more than justified, for people had travelled from as far afield as New Zealand and Korea for the event.

Or rather events. The programme was so tightly packed that it was necessary to choose between papers being presented concurrently at separate locations. This meant much time being spent pondering the helpful synopses ...


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