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Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life Paperback – 7 Mar 1994


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Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life + Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love + Philip Larkin: Collected Poems
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Product details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New Ed edition (7 Mar 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057117065X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571170654
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 4.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 69,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life is an intimate and compelling portrait of Larkin by his literary executor and close friend, former poet laureate Andrew Motion.

About the Author

Andrew Motion was Poet Laureate from 1999 to 2009; he is Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway College, University of London, and co-founder of the online Poetry Archive. He has received numerous awards for his poetry, and has published four celebrated biographies. His group study The Lamberts won the Somerset Maugham Award and his authorised life of Philip Larkin won the Whitbread Prize for Biography. Andrew Motion's novella The Invention of Dr Cake (2003) was described as 'amazingly clever' by the Irish Times and praised for 'brilliant and almost hallucinatory vividness' by the Sunday Telegraph. His memoir, In the Blood (2006), was described as 'the most moving and exquisitely written account of childhood loss I have ever read' in the Independent on Sunday. His most recent collection of poems is The Customs House (2012). Andrew Motion was knighted for his services to poetry in 2009. In 2014 he received the Wilfred Owen Poetry Award.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By hillbank68 TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 May 2012
Format: Paperback
This is an outstanding biography of a man who, paradoxically, had all sorts of unattractive views and kinds of behaviour but nonetheless, as delineated here, is hugely, fallibly human and sympathetic. The title 'A Writer's Life', is taken from Monica Jones, his close friend/companion/soulmate/lover over many years, and it is a just title - incomparably great as a poet, Larkin also wrote novels (two published, others unpublished or started and never finished), essays, reviews and stories. Indeed, writing was what drove him, along with a great love of jazz, reading and his work as the accomplished Librarian of the Brynmor Jones Library at Hull University. What would seem unpalatable about him - for example, his unwillingness - it was really inability - to commit fully in relationships, his selfishness, his dismissive views on many topics - had their root in self-loathing, so that at one and the same time he could lament his many shortcomings, as he saw them, and recognise that he was a 'genius'. In writing this, however, I am aware that I am over-simplifying to the point of distortion ; what the book makes clear is that this was a very complex man, and the depth and sensitivity of Motion's analysis goes a very long way to revealing what made him what he was. In other words, you have to read the book!! It tells a compelling story, but it also is frequently amusing. In his professional life as a librarian and in his personal life as a shy and sometimes remote friend, Larkin could be very funny, and often his turns of phrase, when Motion quotes him, are quirky and entertaining.Read more ›
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Mike Cormack on 29 Nov 2005
Format: Paperback
This is the best biography I have ever read. As a greatly distinguished poet hiself (accepting the Laureateship, whilst Larkin turned it down 25 years earlier), Motion understands the centrality of poetry to Larkin's life, and this is reflected in the book. Larkin's poetry was a continual reflection of his interior states, and so with great empathy and scrupulous research Motion brings these to light. He is unflinching about Larkin's worse aspects and does not absolve Larkin of his racism, sexism and political vituperativeness but explains the impulses from which they sprang. Motion also writes clearly and with no little finesse. A wonderful book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By SP on 10 May 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This cumbersome book needs to be read sat at a table and with a magnifying glass (and my eyesight is otherwise perfect). This is of course not a star rating of the content but more likely an incidental argument in favour of the Kindle version. Having vowed to never purchase one of those things, I will undoubtedly return to studying the small print when I manage to find the spare hours at the required peaceful table, magnifying glass in hand.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By H. C. Merritt on 6 Oct 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When Larkin's diaries were burnt (at his request) "the Truth" about him became beyond human reach. Motion's book attempts to discover what might have held the contradictions of "Philip Larkin" together, always with a sensitive eye to the poetry and the prose. We are very unlikely to see a book as thorough as this about Larkin's life again.
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An excellent and informative biography which not only informs us of the timeline of Larkin's life, but also helps you, as a reader of his poetry, to understand his work on a more personal level. Motion has written an in-depth, comprehensive and fair biography which, although a long read is worth every minute spent.
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I have just finished reading this book for the second time. I love it. I became aware of Larkin's work after hearing a programme about him on the radio a couple of years ago. If you like his poetry etc you will love this book, it shows the darker side of his character and I ended up liking him all the more for it. This is a keeper and I shall doubtless read it again and again.
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