MS letter from Philip Larkin to Charles Monteith, 30th October 1983

Scope and Content

MS letter from Philip Larkin to Charles Monteith. On white writing paper, addressed and dated in Larkin’s hand. Note at the head of the paper, apologising for the omission of “Dr”, Monteith’s title, from the envelope, and joking about a friendly letter from the Ulster Defence Regiment, which - Larkin possibly suggests - have been incorrectly informed that he is attempting to contact William Monteith, a renowned protestant Officer of the RUC. Thanks Monteith for recommending a doctor for Monica Jones (Larkin’s partner between 1950 and his death), who had retired from the School of English at the University of Leicester on grounds of ill health in 1981, when she was only 59. The doctor is likely to have been based in London, since Larkin refers to himself as being “in the provinces” by comparison. Also thanks Monteith for “an advance copy” of Required Writing: Miscellaneous Pieces 1955-1982 (1983, Faber & Faber, prose non-fiction collection). Relates Larkin’s positive impression of the publication. In the context of a “signing day”, refers to John Bodley (1930-2004, editor at Faber & Faber). Also relates Larkin’s “wish” that the book “could have been laminated” (and its white back cover kept clean). Refers to Larkin’s recent state of health, both in terms of a virus and in terms of his emotional condition. Wryly jokes about his “usual sunny self”. Notes Larkin having “bought a bottle of Night Nurse for M, who thinks it good but very strong!” Posits the idea that Larkin should use it, “to be less irritable, etc.”, possibly referring to insomnia as well as to his other illnesses. In white paper envelope stamped with the time, date and location of postage and a Royal Mail Special Services mark, and addressed in Larkin’s hand, using Monteith’s home address.

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