Famous Librarians - Philip Larkin
Public Librarian, Wellington, Shropshire, 1943-1946; Assistant Librarian, University College Leicester, 1946-1950; Sub-Librarian, Queen’s University Belfast, 1950-1955; University Librarian, Brynmor Jones Library, University of Hull, 1955-1985
Almost as notable for his work as a librarian as for his poetry, Philip Larkin spent most of his adult life working in libraries by day, staying late in his office at night to write. Regarded as a poet in exile, due to the thirty years he spent living and working in the remote northern city of Hull, Larkin was never one to court the spotlight, declining both an OBE, in 1968, and to become to Poet Laureate, in 1984. Larkin held the post of University Librarian at the University of Hull until his death, and the library is still notable for the changes he made.
New eyes each year
Find old books here,
And new books,too,
Old eyes renew;
So youth and age
Like ink and page
In this house join,
Minting new coin.
Larkin’s essay, ‘Single-Handed and Untrained’, on his introduction to the world of libraries is available in his essay collection, Required Writing: Miscellaneous Pieces 1955-1982, much of which is available to be read online here.
Read a rare interview with Larkin, about his work in libraries and his writing, in full in the Paris Review here.