Unpublished Philip Larkin poem reveals secretary as muse

Monday, December 6, 2010

LONDON - An unpublished poem written by Philip Larkin reveals his relationship with his secretary - who was also his muse.

The newly-discovered poem, ‘Dear Jake’, will be heard for the first time on the documentary ‘Philip Larkin and the Third Woman’, reports the BBC.

The poems, which were sent in 1976 to his secretary of 28 years Betty Mackereth, now 87, reveal her as his inspiration.

Larkin is known for his relationships with two women, Monica Jones and Maeve Brennan, who are buried close to him in Cottingham cemetery near his adopted home city of Hull.

In the documentary, which marks the 25th anniversary of Larkin’s death at the age of 63, Mackereth speaks for the first time about their love affair, which was only recently revealed.

Larkin biographer Sir Andrew Motion said Dear Jake, which programme-makers say has only been seen by Larkin and Mackereth, was “a rather amazing and wonderful” discovery.

“What we have here is another poem in the sequence of poems written to Betty where she appears to him, in my view, as a muse of vitality and longevity, with a genuine emotional kick,” Larkin expert Professor James Booth of Hull University, said.

“This is quite a find,” he said.

‘Philip Larkin and the Third Woman’ will be broadcast on Sunday at 1800 GMT on BBC One in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. It will also be shown nationwide on Tuesday at 2000 GMT on BBC Four. (ANI)

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