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9 July 2010

Words in Pictures: Philip Larkin

The poet talks about his work to John Betjeman.

By Mike Sweeney


In this week’s magazine, Anthony Thwaite celebrates the legacy of Philip Larkin, twenty-five years after his death.

“In the 21st century, many literary reputations have retreated into the fortress of academe,” writes Thwaite. “But Larkin sees to have satisfied two constituencies – he is studied in schools and universities, and he is read by a much wider public.”

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This video clip, taken from a 1964 BBC film in which the popular poet John Betjeman spent the day with Larkin, the two men sit talking in an overgrown Hull cemetery, discussing notions of life and death.

Larkin says: “I find that when I come here on a wet Sunday afternoon in December . . . when it isn’t at all romantic, it gets me into perspective, it gets my worries into perspective, and everything I write I think has the consciousness of approaching death in the background.”