Philip Larkin


9 August: Born in Coventry. He is the second child, and only son, of Sydney and Eva Larkin. Sydney Larkin was City Treasurer between the years 1922-44.


Attends King Henry VIII School, makes regular contributions to the school magazine, The Coventrian, which, between 1939 and 1940, he also helps to edit.


Graduates from St. John's College, Oxford, with First Class Honours in English. He had failed his army medical because of his poor eyesight. His closest friends at Oxford were Kingsley Amis and Bruce Montgomery. The first of his poems to be published in a national weekly was "Ultimatum," which appeared in the Listener, November 28, 1940. Then in June 1943, three of his poems were published in Oxford Poetry (1942-43).

In November, appointed librarian at Wellington, Shropshire. He studies to qualify as a professional librarian, but continues to write and publish.


Ten of his poems, whichwill later that year be included in The North Ship, appear in Poetry from Oxford in Wartime.


Assistant Librarian at the University College of Leicester.


Sub-Librarian at Queen's University, Belfast.


A small collection, XX Poems, is privately printed in an edition of 100 copies.


Librarian at the University of Hull.

The Less Deceived is published. This collection is the foundation of his reputation as one of the foremost figures in 20th Century poetry.


The Whitsun Weddings is published. The collection is well-received, and widely acclaimed.


Awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.


Contributes monthly reviews of jazz recordings for the Daily Telegraph.


High Windows is published, and confirms him as one of the finest poets in English literary history.




University of Hull makes him a Professor.


Honorary D.Litt. from Oxford University, and is elected to the Board of the British Library.

Offered the chance to succeed Sir John Betjeman as Poet Laureate but declines, being unwilling to accept the high public profile and associated media attention of the position.


Order of the Companion of Honour.

2 December: Dies of cancer.

"I think writing about unhappiness is probably the source of my popularity, if I have any. After all, most people are unhappy, don't you think?"