Sunday, October 14, 2007


Philip Larkin to Barbara Pym - 18 November 1961

32 Pearson Park, Hull

Dear Miss Pym,

. . . How is the novel going? If my suggestion was rash, it was so only because of my possible incapacity. If anyone has written about your books I haven't seen it, & I do think they deserve 'art' recognition as well as 'commercial' recognition, and this it wd be my earnest intention to give.

I can't bear to look at A. G. in W.*: it seems so knowing and smart. I did it when I was about 23, & hoped I was going to lead that wonderful 500-words-a-day on-the-Riviera life that beckons us all like an ignis fatuus from the age of 16 onwards, but alas I wasn't good enough. It is kind of you to mention it, though. I still get about 1 pound royalties every 6 months from it.

Your job sounds pretty tough. I am Secretary of the University Publications Committee, wch means handing in our few unsaleable opera to the OUP & generally acting as go between. Yesterday I found I had signed a contract on behalf of someone giving away an option on their next book, quite without authority. Luckily the Press isn't likely to insist on its pound of flesh. At least I hope not.

Yours sincerely,
Philip Larkin

*A Girl in Winter: A Novel (1947)

-from Selected Letters of Philip Larkin 1940-1985 edited by Anthony Thwaite (London: Faber and Faber, 1992.) p. 334.

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