English poet. His perfectionist, pessimistic verse appeared in The Less Deceived
(1955), and in the later volumes The Whitsun Weddings
(1964) and High Windows
(1974), which confirmed him as one of the most powerful and influential of 20th-century English poets. He edited The Oxford Book of 20th-Century English Verse
(1973). Collected Poems
was published in 1988. He also produced two novels, Jill
(1946, revised 1964), and A Girl in Winter
(1947), and a collection of his writings on music, All What Jazz
Born in Coventry, Larkin was educated at Oxford, and from 1955 was librarian at Hull University. His first collection of verse, The North Ship
, appeared in 1945, but only after its appearance did he discover the poetry of English writer Thomas Hardy
; this had a major effect on his development, giving Larkin the confidence to use material from his own life in his work. His subsequent collection, The Less Deceived
, was well received, and it was classed with the work of the 1950s Movement poets, with whom Larkin shared a certain quiet tone and absence of rhetoric. After his death, his letters and other writings, which he had instructed should be destroyed, revealed an intolerance and misanthropy (dislike for humankind) not found in his published material.
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