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Philip Larkin (1922-1985) is one of the most beloved poets in English. Yet after his death a largely negative image of the man himself took hold; he has been portrayed as a racist, a misogynist and a narcissist. Larkin scholar James Booth, for seventeen years a colleague of the poet's at the University of Hull, offers a very different portrait. Drawn from years of research and a wide variety of Larkin's friends and correspondents, this is the most comprehensive portrait of the poet available.
Booth traces the events that shaped Larkin in his formative years, from his early life when his political instincts were neutralized by exposure to his father's controversial Nazi values. He studies how the academic environment and the competition he felt with colleagues such as Kingsley Amis informed not only Larkin's poetry, but also his little-known ambitions as a novelist.
Through the places and people Larkin encountered over the course of his life, including Monica Jones, with whom he had a tumultuous but enduring relationship, Booth pieces together an image of a rather reserved and gentle man, whose personality--and poetry--have been misinterpreted by decades of academic study. Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love reveals the man behind the words as he has never been seen before.