Antisemitism of Philip Larkin's muse

New book shows racist comments in letters written to the poet by Monica Jones


The antisemitism of Philip Larkin’s muse has been revealed in a new book.

Academic John Sutherland has explored the poet’s four-decade relationship with Monica Jones in Monica Jones, Philip Larkin and Me.

Mr Sutherland had studied English under Jones at Leicester University and had wanted to write an “affectionate” appreciate of his friend, who died in 2001, and who had been criticised for destroying Larkin’s diaries and incomplete works after his death in 1985.

But the Sunday Times reported that the author - emeritus professor of modern English literature at University College London - had been “horrified” by what he read in more than 2,000 letters Jones wrote to Larkin that are housed in Oxford’s Bodleian Library.

A letter she wrote in 1960 about a dinner made reference to “a young Y*d publisher” and she later described a female philosopher as a “mincing, lisping foreign Jew dwarf”.

Mr Sutherland also highlighted a ditty previously attributed to Larkin that went: “Prison for the strikers / Bring back the cat / Kick out the n*****s / How about that?” A recording of Larkin and Jones singing it emerged in 2003, but Mr Sutherland said that Jones also sang it to people on her own. She had once told the author that she intended to vote for the British National Party.

“I don’t want to damn her but I can’t understand her,” Mr Sutherland said.

The couple kept their racist views private but Larkin was denounced after selected letters were published in 1992.


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