Letters to Monica

Philip Larkin, Anthony Thwaite (ed.)

Letters to Monica

Philip Larkin met Monica Jones at University College Leicester in autumn 1946, when they were both twenty-four; he was the newly-appointed assistant librarian and she was an English lecturer. In 1950 Larkin moved to Belfast, and thence to Hull, while Monica remained in Leicester, becoming by turns his correspondent, lover and closest confidante, in a relationship which lasted over forty years until the poet’s death in 1985. This unpublished correspondence came to light after Monica Jones’s death in 2001, and consists of nearly two thousand letters, postcards and telegrams, which chronicle – day by day, sometimes hour by hour – every aspect of Larkin’s life and the convolutions of their relationship. 3.6 out of 5 based on 8 reviews
Letters to Monica

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Biography, Literary Studies & Criticism, Essays, Journals & Letters
Format Hardback
Pages 496
RRP £22.50
Date of Publication October 2010
ISBN 978-0571239092
Publisher Faber & Faber
 

Philip Larkin met Monica Jones at University College Leicester in autumn 1946, when they were both twenty-four; he was the newly-appointed assistant librarian and she was an English lecturer. In 1950 Larkin moved to Belfast, and thence to Hull, while Monica remained in Leicester, becoming by turns his correspondent, lover and closest confidante, in a relationship which lasted over forty years until the poet’s death in 1985. This unpublished correspondence came to light after Monica Jones’s death in 2001, and consists of nearly two thousand letters, postcards and telegrams, which chronicle – day by day, sometimes hour by hour – every aspect of Larkin’s life and the convolutions of their relationship.

Martin Amis on Philip Larkin's women — The Guardian

John Crace's Digested Read — The Guardian

Reviews

The New Statesman

DJ Taylor

It was Anthony Powell, brooding over the Selected Letters (in which he found himself described as "the horse-faced dwarf"), who noted: "All Larkin's life was lived as a provincial librarian, so that perhaps inevitably his point of view, notwithstanding his gifts, was 'provincial'." Letters to Monica, consequently, can be read as a series of scenes from provincial life

28/10/2010

Read Full Review


The Sunday Times

John Carey

Irresistibly readable … As always in Larkin there is an undertow of gloom … Yet the total effect is exhilarating. You feel sorry when you turn the last page.

17/10/2010

Read Full Review


The Sunday Telegraph

Jonathan Bate

The belatedness of their publication is a matter for great regret. Larkin’s posthumous reputation was deeply damaged by the letters that were published in the Nineties, especially those to his very male friends Robert Conquest (frequent discussions of top-shelf magazines) and Kingsley Amis (much politically incorrect talk about immigrants). Had more of those to Monica been available, a much softer and more rounded picture of Larkin would have emerged. His affectionate banter with this highly intelligent woman should put an end to talk of his misogyny.

17/10/2010

Read Full Review


The Observer

Adam Mars-Jones

Nearly 500 pages of misanthropy, glumness, cowardice and hypochondria (the only sort of prophecy that converges on the truth) from someone both spineless and prickly – it sounds like too much of a good thing, but Letters to Monica offers a very full and satisfying portrait of Philip Larkin in all his (negative) moods

17/10/2010

Read Full Review


The Evening Standard

David Sexton

[Thwaite] has left out lots of humdrum stuff, about travel arrangements, meals eaten, colleagues, hangovers, what's on the radio, and the like. Nonetheless, enough remains to make this often a drudging read ... And yet, and yet… Throughout these letters, you can see the poems coming, poems that you know by heart.

21/10/2010

Read Full Review


The Mail on Sunday

Craig Brown

Would he have sanctioned the publication of these letters to Monica? I imagine not. As well as being a very private man, he was a meticulous writer who never let a sloppy line into print. It is tricky, then, to read these letters without feeling some sense of the voyeur. On the other hand, they offer rich pickings to the literary rag-and-bone men, and abound in gossip, humour and un-PC iconoclasm iconoclasm.

17/10/2010

Read Full Review


The London Review of Books

Tom Paulin

These letters are very different from those collected in the Selected Letters of Philip Larkin 1940-85. Those were spirited, eloquent, witty ... The ones here are far less eloquent ... Although Thwaite does include a few excerpts from Monica’s letters, it is a pity not to have more of her side of the story.

21/10/2010

Read Full Review


The Spectator

Philip Hensher

...a definitely lowering book. It is amusing to try to find the least interesting subject Larkin thought worth setting down in a letter to Monica. For my money, the prize goes to a 1959 letter, which begins: "I have four rolls of pink toilet paper on my low table, more or less at my elbow, but their only significance is that I’ve been too lazy to put them away. Pink is a new departure for me — only just discovered Bronco (why Bronco? Talking Bronco) makes it."

23/10/2010

Read Full Review


©2013 The Omnivore