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Philip Larkin

1 portrait matching 'x12937'

© estate of Fay Godwin / British Library / National Portrait Gallery, London

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Philip Larkin

by Fay Godwin
bromide print, 1974
11 3/4 in. x 8 1/4 in. (299 mm x 210 mm)
Given by Fay Godwin, 1980
Photographs Collection
NPG x12937

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Fay Godwin (1931-2005), Photographer. Artist of 48 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 291 Read entry

    ‘Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth’: a typically ironic, melancholic remark of the man who at the time of his death was the most widely read and admired contemporary English poet. Born in Coventry, the son of the city treasurer, he went up to St John’s College, Oxford, with Kingsley Amis. He assumed his mature persona when in 1955 he became librarian of the Brymor Jones library at the University of Hull and published his second volume of verse, The Less Deceived. Ever self-conscious, he fancied he was seen as ‘one of those old-type natural fouled-up guys’, and in his gentle and retiring way did nothing to counteract the image. His poetry, which is direct and highly memorable, takes the rhythms of contemporary speech and coaxes them into unobtrusive metrical elegance. In The Whitsun Weddings (1964) and High Windows (1974) he ranges over sad urban and suburban landscapes, and the preoccupations of their inhabitants, but above all he writes of his own preoccupation with transience and death. He produced verse sparingly, but also wrote two novels, and quantities of jazz criticism in which he revealed an otherwise latent hedonism.

    Fay Godwin first took up photography in 1966, when she began to photograph her young children. Despite the lack of any formal training, she has made a reputation for herself as a photographer of writers and, above all, of landscape, and has collaborated among others with John Fowles on Islands (1978), Ted Hughes on Remains of Elmet (1979), and with Alan Sillitoe on The Saxon Shore Way (1983). She photographed Larkin in wry mood at the library in Hull, looking, as he described himself in later life, ‘like a bald salmon’.

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Events of 1974back to top

Current affairs

28 people are killed and hundreds injured in the IRA pub bombings. Two pubs in Guilford popular with army personnel were attacked with gelignite bombs, followed by a pub in Woolwich and then two in Birmingham. 17 people, known as the Guilford Four, the Maguire Seven and the Birmingham Six, were arrested for the bombing but all were eventually found to have been wrongfully imprisoned.

Art and science

John Le Carré publishes his classic spy thriller, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The novel was later made into a BBC miniseries starring Alec Guinness.


A one party communist state is established in Ethiopia after a committee of military officers known as the Derg depose Halie Selassie from power.
Greek Cypriot officers depose President Archbishop Makarios III in a coup d'etat sponsored by the Greek Government. Taking advantage of the situation, Turkey sent troops to occupy half the island, proclaiming the Turkish Federal State of Cyprus the following year.

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