Larkin’s Oxford

  • Anthony Curtis


Philip Arthur Larkin became an undergraduate at the University of Oxford at the age of eighteen in the Michaelmas Term of 1940. Great Britain had been at war with Germany and Italy for more than a year but the University continued to run regular arts degree courses in addition to starting shorter courses of six months’ residence for service cadets. The composition of the student body in arts subjects was changing through the war; gradually the girls, at that period a minority, would come to outnumber the boys.


Grammar School English Writer Train Journey Romantic Poetry Railway Terminus 
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  1. 1.
    Philip Larkin, Required Writing (London: Faber and Faber, 1983; New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1984) p. 23.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    John Betjeman, An Oxford University Chest (London: J. Miles, 1938).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Philip Larkin, ‘Not the Place’s Fault’, first published in Umbrella (Spring 1959) and included in An Enormous Yes: In Memoriam Philip Larkin (1922–1985), ed. Harry Chambers (Cornwall: Peterloo Poets, 1986) p. 52.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Julian Hall, The Senior Commoner (London: Victor Gollancz, 1933) p. 119.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    Gavin Bone, Beowulf in Modern Verse, with an Essay and Pictures (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1945) p. v. The words are from the Preface by G. H. B., Bone’s parent.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Ian Davie’s published works include Aviator Loquitor (London: Fortune Press, 1943)Google Scholar
  7. and Piers Prodigal (London: Harvill, 1961)Google Scholar
  8. and Roman Pentecost (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1970)Google Scholar
  9. He also edited Oxford Poetry, 1942–1943 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1943)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    William Bell, Elegies (London, n.d.) and Mountains Beneath the Horizon (London: Faber and Faber, 1950).Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Michael Meyer, ‘John Heath-Stubbs in the Forties’, Aquarius, vol. x (Winter 1978) p. 10.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    B. C. Bloomfield, Philip Larkin: A Bibliography, 1933–1976 (London: Faber, 1980) to which all Larkin scholars are deeply indebted.Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    Sidney Keyes and Michael Meyer (eds), Eight Oxford Poets (London: Routledge, 1941). The anthology was rejected by T. S. Eliot at Faber, but accepted by Herbert Read acting as poetry advisor for Routledge (Meyer, ‘John Heath-Stubbs in the Forties’, p. 12).Google Scholar
  14. 18.
    See Larkin’s ‘Introduction’ to Jill (London: Fortune Press, 1946; Faber and Faber, 1964, 1975; New York: Overlook Press, 1976)Google Scholar
  15. and for Wain’s memories of Oxford c. 1944 see Sprightly Running: Part of an Autobiography (London: Macmillan, 1962)Google Scholar
  16. and the chapter on Nevil Coghill in Dear Shadows: Portraits from Memory (London: Macmillan, 1986)Google Scholar

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© Anthony Curtis 1989

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  • Anthony Curtis

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