Letters from Philip Larkin to Joan Barton

Scope and Content

a) Informs Joan that PAL would like to publish her poem 'The Mistress' in the Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse

b) Confirms that apart from any drastic cuts, her poem would definitely appear in the above book

c) Discusses Cecil Day-Lewis and John Betjeman. Is uneasy that negative comments made by PAL to Ted Tarling about Joan's collection were passed on to her.

d) Invitation to submit a poem for the Poetry Book Society's Christmas Poetry Supplement 1974

e) PAL is alternately concerned about receiving too many or too few poems for the Supplement above. He thanks Joan for her complements on High Windows, and sends congratulations on her participation in The Living Poet Series.

f) PAL thanks Joan for the poem she sent him [for the Poetry Book Society Christmas Supplment], which he likes, though is still deciding what to include. He discusses Gladys Mitchell, Laura Menzies and 'Dame Beatrice'.

g) Acknowledges a card received from Joan; one of the best things about 'the whole business' [being awarded a CBE?] is the friendly messages from old acquaintances it produces

h) Advice on choosing between Ted Tarling and George Hartley as her publisher. Asks her to treat his advice as confidential.

i) Comments on Ten Poems and asks if she has sent it to John Betjeman

j) Sends his commiserations on her deteriorating eyesight and on 'difficulties' she was having with Ted Tarling. Comments on Night Journey on the Plain. Discusses his life as a librarian and success as a reviewer. He was surprised by the success of Required Writing. Conveys sadness about John Betjeman's recent death and comments on the memorial service, which was like a literary society party held at Westminster.

k) Comments on her 'failing sight' series of poems and his own 'deafness'. Is happy with the Laureateship, though he doesn't like Ted [Hughes'] poems much. More comments on John Betjeman's memorial, and says that it would be lovely to write poems again.

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