Correspondence between Philip Arthur Larkin and Anthony Thwaite

Scope and Content

The collection comprises letters between Philip Larkin and Anthony Thwaite, including a letter from Larkin to Noel Hughes and one from George Astley to Anthony Thwaite, as well as postcards and miscellaneous items. The letters are written mainly from Hull, but also from London, Oxford, Isle of North Uist, King's Lynn, Isle of Mull, Leicester, Cumbria and Scotland.

The original deposit in May 1994 comprised mainly letters from Philip Larkin to Anthony Thwaite, with just a few letters from Anthony Thwaite included (dating from 1959 to 1961). The remaining letters from Anthony Thwaite (dating from 1966 to 1985), numbering around 80 items, were purchased in 2013 and are not yet catalogued.

Administrative / Biographical History

Anthony Simon Thwaite was born in Chester in 1930 and spent the years of the Second World War with an aunt in Washington DC where he went to school. On his return he was boarded at Kingswood School, Bath, before studying at Christ Church Oxford. While there he edited Isis and co-edited Trio and Oxford Poetry 1954. From 1955 to 1957 he was Visiting Lecturer in English Literature at Tokyo University. On his return to England he became a producer of features for the BBC Third Programme and then, from 1962 to 1965 was literary editor of the Listener. From 1965 to 1967 he was Assistant Professor of English at the University of Libya, Benghazi. Later he became editor of The New Statesman, co-editor of Encounter and Director of Andre Deutsch Ltd. He had a sabbatical year as writer in residence at the University of East Anglia in 1972.

Thwaite and Larkin met in 1951 when Thwaite invited Larkin to contribute to a series for the European Service called Younger British Poets of Today. They quickly became good friends, their friendship deepening over the years. Larkin often stayed with the Thwaites in Richmond and later in Norfolk. As well as supporting Larkin's writing, Thwaite built a reputation as a poet himself. Thwaite published his first book of poems with the Fantasy Press in 1953 and his second Home Truths with the Marvell Press two years after Philip Larkin's The Less Deceived in 1957. His own Collected Poems was published in 2007. He is literary executor of the estate of Philip Larkin, for whom he produced Larkin at Sixty (1982), later editing The Collected Poems (1988) and Selected Letters (1992).


U DP/181/1 Correspondence, 1958-1985

U DP/181/2 Postcards, 1958-1982

U DP/181/3 Lettercards, 1962

U DP/181/4 Greetings cards, 1971-1984

U DP/181/5 Miscellaneous, 1963-1973

Access Information

Photocopies of the correspondence are issued to researchers rather than the originals.

Letters from Anthony Thwaite 1966-1985 are currently uncatalogued. In some cases a draft or box list may exist which may allow us to provide access to the collection ahead of the material being catalogued. If you are interested in this collection please contact clearly outlining your interest and timescales.

Custodial History

Purchased from Anthony Thwaite, 19 May 1994 and April 2013, with the aid of the V&A Purchase Grant Fund

Letters to Philip Larkin were returned to their senders under the terms of his will, therefore letters from Anthony Thwaite to Philip Larkin were deposited by Anthony Thwaite rather than the Larkin Estate.

Related Material

Other papers of Anthony Thwaite are at U DP151/4, U DP155, U DP188, U DP214 and U DAT

Papers of Philip Larkin [U DPL]