Biography of Philip Arthur Larkin

Just a little over than one hundred pages of poetry – that’s all what Philip Larking wrote. Yet, this extremely small body of work gives enough evidence to call him one of the most notable poets of his era.

Born: 9 August 1922
Radford, Coventry, Warwickshire, England
Poet, librarian, novelist, jazz critic


Biography of Philip Larkin

The only child of Sydney Larkin, the City Treasurer in Coventry, Philip Larkin had a sister, who was about 10 years older than him. His interest in literary work became obvious rather early: not only did Larkin write to his school magazine, but he also took part in editing it.

Larking didn’t go to the war because of his poor eyesight, so he was able to get his university degree in English at St. John’s College in Oxford without any interruption. In addition to writing, Larkin’s main occupation throughout his life was working as a librarian. Larking became an Associate of the Library Association in 1949. In 1982 he became a Professor at the University of Hull.


Larkin died of cancer at the age of 63.

Creative work of Philip Larkin

In terms of poetic form, Larking often remained within the traditional understanding of rhyme, stanza, and meter, and yet his works are capable of producing a great effect on people’s imagination. To a large extend, that’s due to the fact that he often discussed rather uncomfortable or even terrifying experiences ordinary people come through. His poetry is somewhat disturbing, and yet appealing.
Larking avoided being labeled; he did not thought of himself as a part of any poetic movement. His love to England bordered on eccentricity, and he showed astonishing dislike of foreign literature and travelling abroad.

Philip Larkin poems

Larkin is sometimes referred to as “other Poet Laureate”. That’s because he rejected the offer to become Poet Laureate: he wasn’t prepared for the media attention the position involved. Apparently, Larking was the kind of person who hides his light under a bushel.

The first poem Larkin published was called “Ultimatum” (1940). His first volume, “The North Ship, “ appeared in 1945. In 1951 he published a collection called “XX Poems“ (100 copies). Then came “The Less Deceived,” “The Whitsun Weddings,” “High Windows,” “Thwaite, Anthony”.

Popular poems by Philip Arthur Larkin

  1. High Windows
  2. This Be The Verse
  3. Annus Mirabilis

Facts about Philip Larkin

  • Larkin became popular only in 1955 after his second volume of poems was published. At the time, he already was the author of three books (a volume of poetry and two novels)
  • he worked as jazz critic in The Daily Telegraph
  • while Larkin was known as a rather solitary person, in fact, he had a series of relationships with women, which had a profound effect on his poetry
  • Larkin wrote most of his published works at the time he worked as a university librarian
  • after the poet’s death, his letters were published, which caused controversy and were described by John Banville as hair-raising

Philip Arthur Larkin death: 2 December 1985, Hull, Humberside, England