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Philip Larkin

2 of 6 portraits of Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin, by Humphrey Ocean (Humphrey Anthony Erdeswick Butler-Bowdon), 1984 - NPG 5746 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Philip Larkin

by Humphrey Ocean (Humphrey Anthony Erdeswick Butler-Bowdon)
acrylic on canvas, 1984
20 5/8 in. x 17 5/8 in. (523 mm x 448 mm)
Commissioned, 1984
Primary Collection
NPG 5746


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Painted in the attic of Larkin's house in Newland Park, Hull. The poet liked living high up among trees and roofs, and many of his poems reflect this.

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Current affairs

The Provisional IRA bomb the Grand Hotel in Brighton where various politicians, including the Prime Minister, where staying for the annual Conservative Party conference. The bomb killed five people including a conservative MP, but no members of the cabinet. Thatcher began the next session of the conference the following morning at 9.30 as planned saying: 'all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.'

Art and science

Dr Alec Jeffreys discovers that patterns in an individual's DNA can be identified and that each person has a unique 'genetic fingerprint'. The technique was soon utilised by forensic scientists to help in criminal investigations, and in order to identify human remains, for paternity testing, and to match organ donors. Ted Hughes is appointed poet Laureate.

International

Ethiopia suffers severe drought and famine. The Ethiopian government responded by uprooting large numbers of peasants in the worst affected areas and by setting up new villages for the displaced people. However, the planned villages were frequently poorly equipped and many people chose to flee rather than acquiesce with government plans leading to further decline in food production and bringing the total death toll to over 1 million.

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