A long campaign to seek recognition for one of Britain’s great 21st century poets has finally paid off.
Admirers of Philip Larkin in his adopted city of Hull have announced that a memorial ledger stone to commemorate the late writer will be unveiled during a ceremony at Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey, on the 31st anniversary of his death.
Coventry-born Larkin became a professional librarian after first failing a medical to join the Army for poor eyesight and then gaining a First Class Honours degree in English.
The novelist-turned-poet went on to achieve acclaim for his poetry volumes such as The Less Deceived, The Whitsun Weddings, and High Windows, and was employed as chief librarian at Hull University between 1955-85.
Professor Edwin Dawes, chairman of The Philip Larkin Society, which was founded in 1995, ten years after the poet’s death and which has become a national and international focus for lovers of his writings, said: “We are delighted that Philip Larkin will finally take his place at the very cultural heart of the nation, amongst Britain’s greatest writers.”
The memorial stone, which contains an inscription taken from a Larkin poem and will be revealed on Friday, has been sculpted by Martin Jennings whose previous work includes the Larkin Statue and roundels on Hull Paragon railway station.
It will be located near memorials for other literary icons such as the Brontë sisters, Ted Hughes and one of the writers Larkin admired most, Thomas Hardy.
Hull-born actor, Sir Tom Courteney, and Baroness Bottomley, chancellor of Hull University and High Sheriff of the city, both vice presidents of The Philip Larkin Society, will give readings at the ceremony.
Professor Graham Chesters, vice chairman of The Philip Larkin Society, said: “It is more than fitting that this honour should be bestowed upon Philip Larkin’s memory on the eve of the year in which his adopted city of Hull will be the UK’s City of Culture.”