Philip Larkin

Larkin 25: update

Readers of the last issue of About Larkin might have noticed an early announcement on the 2010 commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the poetís death. The Larkin Society has taken the lead in initiating a commemoration in partnership with the University of Hull, Hull City Council and Visit Hull and East Yorkshire. Other major partners that have now joined the planning are Hull Truck Theatre, Hull School of Art and Design, BBC Humberside, the Hull History Centre and Artlink. The aim is to mark this significant anniversary in a way that is worthy both of the poet and the City with which his creative and professional life is most associated. The commemorative programme goes under the banner of Larkin 25 with a strap line of ĎAnother Look at Larkiní, and is planned to cover a period of roughly 25 weeks, beginning in June 2010. The driving objectives are to celebrate the artistic and professional achievements of Larkin, to make a national and international impact as well as raise appreciation of creativity within Hull itself, and to leave a legacy that will help to ensure Larkinís place as one of the Cityís cultural icons. This page is intended to bring readers up to date on what is likely to be the single most significant celebration of Larkin that has yet taken place.

The Steering Group that is overseeing the commemoration has made progress on all the key priorities identified in the earlier announcement.

  • The Larkin Trail is the subject of a substantial bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund with the dual aim of inspiring a series of related events during the commemoration itself and creating a long-lasting focus for Larkin visitors to the City and the East Riding. The trail will cover both Hull and East Yorkshire and will largely be based on Jean Hartleyís book; the intention is to take advantage of new technologies to enrich the experience (for example, through downloaded commentaries, poetry readings). The base from where relevant documentation is collected will be the History Centre in Hull, a new and striking building supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund which, from 2009, will house the Cityís archives and those University archives which have relevance to the City (including Larkinís papers). It will also be the site of a major exhibition based on the archives.
  • Other exhibitions are planned for the Georgian Houses in High St (Larkin the man), the Ferens Art Gallery (Monica Jones and fashion; and Larkinís doodles), the University of Hull (photography) and Hull Truck Theatre (jazz, poetry, photography). Work is in progress to explore how many of these exhibitions will also travel to other Larkin destinations across the country. Hull School of Art and Design will also mount exhibitions of studentsí Larkin-related work in various locations in the City.
  • The Larkin Society will lead on the erection of a Larkin statue to be sited in Hullís Paragon Station. Kind permission has been given in principle by First Transpennine and Network Rail. The Society is launching a public appeal for funds with a target of £80,000 to cover all costs and the intention of unveiling the statue in December 2010. To set the ball rolling, the Society has agreed to allocate £10,000 of its funds towards the appeal. Members of the Society are invited to contribute either by sending a cheque (made payable to the Philip Larkin Society Statue Fund) to Mrs J Sewell, PLS Treasurer, 4 West End Road, Cottingham, East Yorkshire HU16 5PA; or donations can be made online at
  • The creation of a major community art event based on the production of over 100 Larkin toads to be located in different parts of the City.
  • The University is organising a Larkin lecture series given by Larkin devotees who currently include Alan Plater (June), Sean OíBrien (September/October), Andrew Motion (October) and Carol Rumens (December).
  • A set of major commissions which will include settings of Larkinís poetry to music, jazz, drama and photography.

Other proposals that have taken shape since the preliminary notice are:

  • A programme of drama workshops run by Hull Truck Theatre
  • A production of a play about Larkin
  • The production of a CD of Larkin set to music composed by young local bands
  • A short film of the poem ĎHereí
  • Publication of two new anthologies (The Hull Connection and a newly-coined edition of A Rumoured City)
  • The launch of a box set of CDs containing Larkinís favourite jazz by Proper Records with a booklet written by Trevor Tolley and John White at the Hull Jazz Festival in July
  • Evenings of performance poetry as part of the Humber Mouth literature festival in June/July
  • Poems on Buses and the naming of a bus after the poet by East Yorkshire Motor Services
  • A major web-based BBC Community Poetry project

Members of the Larkin Society are particularly asked to note that the launch of Larkin 25 will coincide with the Societyís Annual General Meeting to be held in Hull Truck Theatre on Saturday, 12 June 2010. The full programme of Larkin 25 events will be available early in the New Year. The range of events still depends to some extent on the success of funding applications. The organisers are grateful for the contribution in kind made already by the partners and for financial support from VHEY, Yorkshire Forward, the Ferens Educational Trust, the University of Hull and the Larkin Society.

Graham Chesters,
Chair, Larkin 25 Steering Group
November 2008

Registered Charity No. 1085251
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