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Larkin to get Poets' Corner memorial

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Philip Larkin is to be honoured with a memorial in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. A floor stone dedicated to Larkin will join those of other poets including WH Auden, TS Eliot, William Wordsworth, and Ted Hughes, and will be unveiled on 2 December 2016, the 31st anniversary of Larkin's death.

The last poet to be honoured was Hughes in 2011. The decision to honour Larkin was made by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev Dr John Hall, who told the BBC: "Philip Larkin is one of the great poets of the 20th century in English and it's been pressed on me by a number of his colleagues and friends that it's the right time to memorialise him."

Larkin’s most quoted line is probably the cheerless, “They fuck you up, your mum and dad”, but Hall said another poem, ‘Church Going’, had touched him. In the poem, written after the poet visited an empty local church, Larkin ponders the death of traditional church attendance, but says the building should be preserved as a place to ponder life’s most serious questions.

The posthumous publication of Larkin's letters led to accusations of racism and misogyny. But in 2003 he was chosen as the nation's best-loved poet of the last 50 years, in a survey by the Poetry Book Society. Professor Edwin Dawes, who chairs the Philip Larkin Society, said Larkin's words were quoted more frequently than those of any of his poetic contemporaries. 

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Greg Freeman

Sat 20th Jun 2015 09:51

It has to be said, the racism revealed in his letters, written in the early 70s, is shocking and abhorrent. And he idolised Margaret Thatcher. And yet I love Larkin's poetry.

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Wed 17th Jun 2015 22:24

This is great news when a genuine observer and commentator on life is rewarded amongst the "greats" of society who may have garnered their place by judicious placement .

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