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This report is taken from PN Review 113, Volume 23 Number 3, January - February 1997.

The Philip Larkin Family Papers Rebecca Johnson

When Anthony Thwaite made his selection from Philip Larkin's letters he chose not to include family correspondence, arguing that his volume aimed to be a 'first presentation rather than a complete and exhaustive archive'. In 1994 Rosemary Parry began the process of redressing this imbalance by depositing 'The Philip Larkin Family Papers' in the archives at the Brynmor Jones Library, Hull University. These papers have now been catalogued and nearly everything over thirty years is available to researchers. They provide invaluable background information about Philip Larkin's routine and class-bound existence during the thirties and forties. Additionally there are many letters between Larkin and his sister and niece, relationships which Andrew Motion stopped short of investigating in Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (1993).

In 1919 Sydney Larkin, Philip's father, was appointed deputy treasurer to Coventry City Council. It proved a shrewd move. In 1922 the treasurer retired and Sydney took over his post. On 9 August Philip was born. A substantial part of this small but significant collection is made up of Sydney's diaries. Nine travel diaries record in meticulous detail the holidays taken by him with various members of his family between the years 1927 and 1943. This sequence has as much value as a personal history of pre-war Britain as it does as a record of the young poet's early years.

The family spent most of their British holidays at the fashionable seaside resorts of Devon and Cornwall. They made one trip north to ...


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