Philip Larkin disliked ”niggers,’ the poor, most other writers, other people in general and, much of the time, himself’


Kingsley Amis, the addressee of many colourful Larkin bulletins, had written to his pen pal in 1956 of the ‘feast … awaiting chaps when we’re both dead and our complete letters come out’.

He was, he said, vastly amused by the debates occasioned by Motion’s biography: to be dismayed by Larkin’s spank mags and racism even in notes to his mum was, for Amis, a sign of humourless cultural Stalinism. (…)

There was also much swapping of fieldnotes on schoolgirls, in whom both were self-consciously interested. (‘I find myself wondering what would have happened,’ Alan Bennett wrote in 1986 of Larkin’s fear of death, ‘had he worked in a hospital once a week like – dare one say it? – Jimmy Savile.’)

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