Collected Poems

Philip Larkin

Introduced by Anthony Thwaite

Foreword by Andrew Motion

Edited by Anthony Thwaite

Photographs by the author, selected by Andrew Motion

This exceptional Folio edition of Philip Larkin’s Collected Poems includes a new foreword by Andrew Motion. It is the only edition of Larkin’s poetry to be illustrated with many of the author’s own photographs.

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In this outstanding new edition, Philip Larkin’s collected poems are presented alongside his own photographs for the first time. Drawing on the authorised text, the poetry selection is edited and introduced by renowned poet Anthony Thwaite, and includes a new foreword by former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion. The chronological order of the published collections presents the key points in Larkin’s writing career. His colloquial, workaday style reflects his unassuming life as a distinguished librarian at Hull University; his genius lay in transforming experiences into poetry that, perhaps more than with any other British poet of his time, strikes a common chord. His direct style and wicked sense of humour have made Larkin one of the most widely read British poets of the 20th century. He was named Britain’s greatest post-war writer by The Times in 2008.

‘Most of us have scores of Larkin’s lines, hemistiches and phrases in our heads, to make us smile whenever we think of them’

  1. Clive James

Production Details

Three-quarter bound in blocked cloth with a paper front board, printed with a design by Richard Peacock

Set in Berling

280 pages

Colour frontispiece and 12 integrated black & white photographs by Philip Larkin

Plain slipcase

˝ x 6¾˝

The first edition to feature Larkin’s photographs

Larkin was as passionate about photography as he was about poetry and he sought to chronicle the people and places that influenced his life. Helpfully for posterity, he was also one of the first keen selfie-takers, carefully managing his photographic image with perfectly posed and carefully lit portraits. Although disparate in subject matter, there are many subtle connections between Larkin’s photography and his poetry, and this edition is the first to bring the two together. As Larkin’s biographer, and a literary executor of his estate, Andrew Motion has a unique insight into his complete creative legacy. Working with the Hull History Centre archive, he selected an intimate series of Larkin’s black-and-white photographs for this edition – many previously unpublished – that chime with moments in the poems. So, ‘A View of Pearson Park, Hull’ sits alongside his poem ‘The Trees’; while a striking portrait of Larkin’s lover and muse Monica Jones illustrates one of his best-known poems, ‘This Be The Verse’.

Larkin as he would have wanted to be read

The edition is arranged in the order of the published collections – The North Ship, The Less Deceived, The Whitsun Weddings and High Windows. There are also two appendices of more than 30 uncollected poems, as well as complete indexes of titles and publication dates. With some of Larkin’s best-known and critiqued works included in the appendices, such as the poignant late ‘Aubade’, these are essential to include in any anthology of his work. Edited and introduced by Anthony Thwaite – one of Larkin’s literary executors, as well as an award-winning poet and critic – the meticulous organisation allows the reader to trace and appreciate Larkin’s development as a writer. 

Exclusive new foreword by Andrew Motion

In a specially commissioned foreword, Andrew Motion further explores the fascinating artistic connections between Larkin’s photography and his poetry, returning to the writer’s childhood to discover the origins of his interest in the former. The foreword joins Anthony Thwaite’s original introduction to the text to form a biographical, creative and personal insight into the life and work of one of our greatest poets. Finally, in a further tribute to the art of photography, printmaker and Larkinian Richard Peacock has drawn on a period palette to create a striking geometric binding design which subtly nods to the form of the camera aperture.

About Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin was born in Coventry in 1922. He studied English at Oxford, where he made valued friendships including with the novelist Kingsley Amis. He then became a professional librarian, in Shropshire and Leicester, then at Queen’s College, Belfast, and finally as head librarian at the University of Hull’s Brynmor Jones Library, where his modernising stewardship continues to be appreciated. He published two novels, Jill (1946) and A Girl in Winter (1947), and only four volumes of poetry, The North Ship (1945), The Less Deceived (1955), The Whitsun Weddings (1964) and High Windows (1974), but his great acclaim is assured by these collections and a few poems not collected in his lifetime. He also edited The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse (1973). Larkin received many prestigious awards including the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry and the W. H. Smith Award, and remains one of the best-loved English poets. He was made CBE in 1975 and a Companion of Literature in 1978. He died in 1985.

About Andrew Motion

Andrew Motion is the author of Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life (1993) and one of Larkin’s literary executors. He was UK Poet Laureate from 1999 to 2009 and is now Homewood Professor of the Arts at Johns Hopkins University. He lives in Baltimore.

About Anthony Thwaite

Anthony Thwaite was asked by Larkin to be one of his literary executors in 1983. He edited Larkin’s Collected Poems (1988 & 2003), Selected Letters (1992), Further Requirements (2002) and Letters to Monica (2010). He has published twenty collections of his own poetry, including Collected Poems (2007) and Going Out (2015). He is married to the biographer Ann Thwaite.


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