Philip Larkin exhibition in Hull offers fresh insights into poet's life

Philip Larkin is many things to many people; to some a bleakly beautiful poet with a razor-sharp wit, to others a womanising misogynist whose casual racism is unforgivable. It is into this morally complex minefield that a new exhibition, held in Hull’s Brynmor Jones library where he was famously the librarian, has waded, offering a new perspective on Larkin, one of the city’s most treasured cultural figures. The exhibition, opened as part of Hull City of Culture 2017, has gathered together hundreds of personal items from Larkin’s life, from his book collection to his clothes, ornaments from his office and home, unseen photographs, notes and doodles and objects belonging to his many lovers, to piece together a new and fascinating picture of the poet’s life. Most of the objects were originally in Larkin’s home and have never been seen in public before. It is an exhibition that does not shy away from the complex, darker sides of Larkin’s personality. On display is the small figurine of Hitler, given to the poet by his Nazi-sympathiser father who once took Larkin to a Nuremberg Rally. Also on display are the empty spines of the diaries that Larkin ordered to be shredded […]

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