Philip Larkin: Letters Home by Phillip Larkin
Letters Home gives access to the last major archive of Larkin's writing to remain unpublished: the letters to members of his family. These correspondences help tell the story of how Larkin came to be the writer and the man he was: to his father Sydney, a 'conservative anarchist' and admirer of Hitler, who died relatively early in Larkin's life; to his timid, depressive mother Eva, who by contrast lived long, and whose final years were shadowed by dementia; and to his sister Kitty, the sparse surviving fragment of whose correspondence with her brother gives an enigmatic glimpse of a complex and intimate relationship. In particular, it was the years during which he and his sister looked after their mother that shaped the writer we know so well: a number of poems written over this time are for her, and the mood of pain, shadow and despondency that characterises his later verse draws its strength from his experience of the long, lonely years of her senility.
One surprising element in the volume, however, is the joie de vivre shown in the large number of witty and engaging drawings of himself and Eva, as 'Young Creature' and 'Old Creature', with which he enlivens his letters throughout the three decades of her widowhood. This important edition, meticulously edited by James Booth is a key piece of scholarship that completes the portrait of this most cherished of English poets.