MS letter from Philip Larkin to Charles Monteith, 29 October 1970

Scope and Content

MS letter from Philip Larkin to Charles Monteith. On writing paper printed with the address and telephone number of All Souls College, Oxford at the head. Refers to Larkin’s organisation of a literary lunch party with the Bursar of All Souls College (?), informing Monteith that Jill Balcon (1925-2009, actress and wife of Cecil Day-Lewis) “will be happy” to travel for the event. Requests “advice, on guests”, citing the fact that “the Warden and CDL [i.e. Cecil Day-Lewis, 1904-1972, poet laureate] are contemporaries (Bowra’s [i.e. Maurice Bowra, 1898-1972, classicist & Wadham College Warden 1938-1970] Bright Young Men)” as a potential reason to invite the Warden. Mentions Larkin’s intention of inviting Monteith, “the Baileys, John Fuller [1937-, poet] (+ wife)”. Requests Monteith’s opinion about whether Larkin “dare ask the JIM Stewarts” (J.I.M. Stewart, 1906-1994, Scottish novelist & academic). Characterises the invitees as “fellow Hardeians, fellow ‘tec novelists”, probably referring to their shared interest in the literary work of Thomas Hardy and to those of them who wrote novels set in British polytechnic colleges where they had had teaching experience. Mentions “the Biswases”, [i.e. R.K. Biswas, Indian academic, Fellow of All Soul’s, & colleague of Larkin’s partner, Monica Jones, at the University of Leicester]. Also mentions “Bryan Wilson” as a potential invitee. (Wilson was both a fellow of All Soul’s and a contributor to the Black Papers, a political journal to which Larkin also contributed material.) In white paper envelope stamped with the crest of All Soul’s on the triangular fold, and addressed using Monteith’s name and “All Soul’s College”.

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