Papers of Betty Mackereth relating to Philip Larkin

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This small collection includes correspondence between Betty Mackereth and Philip Larkin; correspondence to Betty Mackereth from various correspondents relating to Philip Larkin; newspaper articles relating to Larkin and copies of Larkin poems; photographs of the construction of the Brynmor Jones Library extension and group photographs of library staff; the Brynmor Jones Library betting book; rough sketches by Philip Larkin and a handwritten, untitled poem by Philip Larkin.

Administrative / Biographical History

Betty Mackereth was born in 1924 in Hull and was educated at Newland High School and the Commercial College. She was called up shortly after the onset of the Second World War, being sent to a government training facility in Leeds as a quality-control inspector. Whilst there, she learned how to do welding. Later during the war she worked in Gloucester and in 1945 returned to Hull to work for the Transport Department. She stayed there for twelve years before taking the position of Philip Larkin's secretary at the Brynmor Jones Library, University of Hull on 20 May 1957, remaining as his secretary until her retirement in 1984.

Betty and Philip began an affair during the spring and summer of 1975, when they were both in their fifties and with Betty fully aware of Larkin's relationships with both Monica Jones and Maeve Brennan. Their personal relationship continued until Larkin's death in 1985. After his death, on Larkin's wishes, Betty destroyed his diaries, shredding them sheet by sheet and then sending what remained to the University incinerator. In his little drawings in his letters, Larkin depicted Mackereth as a whale, whilst Monica was a rabbit and Maeve a mouse.

Conditions Governing Access

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Custodial History

Donated by Betty Mackereth, Jul 2013

Related Material

Papers of Philip Larkin [U DPL]

Photographs of Philip Larkin [U DLV]