Philip Larkin

Literary Birthday – 9 August – Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin was born 9 August 1922, and died 2 December 1985.


  1. You can look out of your life like a train & see what you’re heading for, but you can’t stop the train.
  2. But superstition, like belief, must die…
  3. If we seriously contemplate life it appears an agony too great to be supported, but for the most part our minds gloss such things over & until the ice finally lets us through we skate about merrily enough. Most people, I’m convinced, don’t think about life at all. They grab what they think they want and the subsequent consequences keep them busy in an endless chain till they’re carried out feet first.
  4. You know I don’t care at all for politics, intelligently.
  5. I can’t understand these chaps who go round American universities explaining how they write poems: It’s like going round explaining how you sleep with your wife.
  6. Parents fuck you up. They don’t mean to but they do.
  7. How little our careers express what lies in us, and yet how much time they take up. It’s sad, really.
  8. Originality is being different from oneself, not others.
  9. I think writing about unhappiness is probably the source of my popularity, if I have any-after all, most people are unhappy, don’t you think?
  10. Poetry is an affair of sanity, of seeing things as they are, to recreate the familiar, eternalising the poet’s own perception in unique and original verbal form.

Philip Larkin was an English poet and novelist. He contributed to The Daily Telegraph as its jazz critic from 1961 to 1971, and he edited The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse. He wrote A Girl in Winter. He was the recipient of many honours, including the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. He was offered, but declined, the position of poet laureate in 1984, following the death of John Betjeman.

Source for Image

Philip Larkin in a library. Photograph by Fay Godwin. © The British Library Board

by Amanda Patterson

Please click here for our Literary Birthday Calendar

Posted on: 9th August 2013