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English poet, librarian and jazz critic.
Larkin worked in a number of libraries before becoming librarian at the University of Hull in 1955. His first poetry appeared in a 1944 anthology, and probably the most famous line from his work is: “They f**k you up, your mum and dad”.
His articles on jazz were collected in All What Jazz? (1970).Larkin had a spectacularly dysfunctional private life. He hated his mother and women in general, loved pornography and was persistently unfaithful to his wife (at one point he had three mistresses on the go).
This is an extraordinary Larkin rarity - a hardback copy of Kenneth Grahame, Life, Letters and Unpublished Work by Patrick Chalmers (Methuen & Co., London, 1933), with his ownership signature on the front free endpaper. What is remarkable is that Larkin has added the date, 16th April 1935, making him just 12 years and 8 months old at the time!
At that time Larkin was a student at the senior school of the King Henry VIII in Coventry. He was a precocious child and was encouraged by his father, Sydney Larkin, to write and to read widely. Kenneth Grahame was known to be one of his favourite authors.
The pre-teen signature of Philip Larkin, unsurprisingly, is a little different from his adult signature, but an early example from 1948 exists in a copy of A Girl In Winter, Larkin's third book. (This book is currently offered on ABE by Jonkers Rare Books of Henley-on-Thames.)
This signature is little different from the pre-teen form of his signature.
The Kenneth Grahame book has had an adventurous life - the dust wrapper is missing, the front edge of the spine is damaged, a rear end paper appears to have been torn off and there is page yellowing throughout.
That said, this remains an astonishing survival, and would make a unique and wonderful addition to any Philip Larkin collection.