From Hull and back: Philip Larkin immortalised at Poets’ Corner
The poet, who died in 1985, will be given a memorial ledger stone near the tombs of fellow literary giants Geoffrey Chaucer and Charles Dickens.
The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said he was “happy” to install the plaque in the cathedral grounds following controversy about the university librarian’s personal views on issues including relationships.
Larkin, perhaps best-known for the line “They f*** you up, your mum and dad” in the poem This Be The Verse, turned down the chance to become Poet Laureate in 1984.
Dr Hall said: “With the kings and queens in Westminster Abbey are buried or memorialised 3,300 men and women, many of whom have contributed with distinction to the health and well-being not only of the people of England and the United Kingdom and Commonwealth but of the whole English-speaking world.
“Philip Larkin will be memorialised very near Geoffrey Chaucer, finding a fitting place among his fellow poets. I have no doubt that his work and memory will live on as long as the English language continues to be understood.”
Dr Hall told the Times that although letters released after Larkin’s death suggested he held views “not absolutely upholding the Christian ideal”, he deserved his place in the south transept of the abbey.
“There are aspects of private correspondence that leave one feeling a bit disappointed. He had several mistresses and he had more than one at a time, and he also expressed misogynistic (views),” he told the paper.
“I’m very happy to have such people without peering too closely into their souls.”
Professor Edwin Dawes, chairman of the Philip Larkin Society said: “The memorialisation of Philip Larkin in Poets’ Corner will be warmly welcomed by his many admirers in all walks of life.
“The most admired and popular poet of the 20th century, his words are quoted more frequently than those of any of his poetic contemporaries, in the press and the media. We are delighted that in 2016 Larkin will take his place at the very cultural heart of the nation, in Westminster Abbey amongst Britain’s greatest writers.”
The stone will be dedicated on Friday December 2 2016, on the anniversary of Larkin’s death.
The poet spent 30 years as librarian at the Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull.