Papers of Peter Coveney (1924-2007) relating to Philip Larkin (1922-1985)

Scope and Content

The papers include the following:

Hardcopy and electronic copy of the 'Mémoire'; c 2003, accompanied by a covering note written by Mrs Margaret Coveney and a biographical introduction relating to Peter Coveney by Michael Pitt (former member of the University of Nottingham Registrar's Department) and friend of Peter and Margaret Coveney; June 2011 (MS908/1).

Eight letters from Philip Larkin to Peter Coveney 1955 -1985; five letters from Monica Jones to Mr and Mrs Coveney 1961; one letter from Mrs Larkin (Philip Larkin's mother) to Peter Coveney and one from Peter Hoare, University of Nottingham Librarian to Peter Coveney 1980 (MS908/2).

Photographs of Larkin taken by Coveney at the request of the former in the latter's sitting room at Needler Hall, The University of Hull 1955/56 with copy of photograph of Coveney taken by Larkin at the same time (MS908/3).

Administrative / Biographical History

Peter James Coveney was educated at Dover and Poole Grammar Schools and at Downing College Cambridge. After appointments at Dulwich College, Hulme Hall, and the University of Manchester, he moved to Hull and met the newly appointed Librarian Philip Larkin in 1955. In 1962 Coveney became the founding warden of Lincoln Hall at the University of Nottingham and subsequently joined the University's History Department. He and Larkin remained in contact until the poet's death in 1985. Coveney died in 2007, survived by his wife Margaret.

The Mémoire was written in 2003. The letters and photographs in this collection are all materials cited in the Mémoire, and are unpublished and hitherto unavailable elsewhere. All are original documents, except the final letter from Larkin written only a few months before his death.

Michael Pitt, who wrote the introduction to the Mémoire, first met Coveney in 1975 when he was appointed to the University's Registrar's Department and was a resident tutor at Lincoln Hall. He recognised the research value of Coveney's work and was instrumental in arranging for it to be transferred to the archive. The covering note written by Margaret Coveney gives reasons for Coveney's material receiving no earlier mention in the biographies and his conflict between friendship and duty and keeping the record straight.


Documents have been arranged by type and then either chronologically, or the order in which they are cited in the Mémoire

Access Information

Accessible to all readers.

Other Finding Aids

Copyright in all finding aids belongs to The University of Nottingham.

Online: Available on the Manuscripts Online Catalogue, accessible from the website of Manuscripts and Special Collections.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements


Conditions Governing Use

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult.

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections

Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

Custodial History

The papers were retained by the Coveney family until they were acquired by the University in April 2011.