“Since his death in 1985, Philip Larkin’s reputation has taken a battering, especially from commentators on the left. The controversial 1988 edition of his Collected Poems dented his professional reputation due to misguided editorial decisions. Then there was the publication of Selected Letters in 1992, followed the next year by Andrew Motion’s biography. The droll and disarming letters shocked some with the poet’s cutting comments about fellow writers and his casual racism. The biography seemed to cast its subject in a poor light, making him appear deceitful towards women, politically reactionary and unjustifiably negative in outlook.
“In recent years there seems to have been a concerted push to repair Larkin’s reputation. A collection of love letters to Monica Jones appeared in 2010, which showed the poet in playful and affectionate mood (while not concealing his manoeuvrings to conceal his infidelity). An excellently edited Complete Poems has appeared, replacing the inadequate earlier collections, and unpublished early writing has been added to the corpus. Now we have this biography from James Booth, a former colleague of Larkin’s at Hull University…”
Read the full review on SPIKED, 10 October 2014 here: