‘Why is Larkin so different from other poets of today?’ asked John Bayley in his first piece about the poet for the LRB, published in 1983. By the time his second appeared in our pages ten years later, contributors including Barbara Everett, Frank Kermode, Alan Bennett, Ian Hamilton and Christopher Ricks had also written for the paper about the ‘man on the jetty,’ as Bennett described him at the end of his review of Andrew Motion’s biography, ‘who might be anybody’.
The eloquent contradictions of his life and work have made Larkin a subject we’ve returned to more than most throughout the LRB’s 38-year history. To continue that tradition, we invited two regular contributors, Mark Ford and Seamus Perry, to discuss Philip Larkin with specific reference to several of these articles, some of which will be unlocked for the next week or so.
Photo: The Society of Authors as the Literary Representative of the Estate of Philip Larkin