Auctions | May 1, 2013

First Poem by Philip Larkin Coming Up at Bonhams

The first handwritten poem by Philip Larkin ever to come to auction is to be sold on 8 May in Part II of the sale of The Roy Davids Collection Part III: Poetry: Poetical Manuscripts and Portraits of Poets at Bonhams, New Bond Street. London. It is estimated at £3,000-4,000. Handwritten poetic manuscripts by Larkin are exceedingly rare.


The poem, entitled, ‘Love’, was written in December 1962 and is a typically wry reflection on the compromises and demands of love.

The opening lines give the flavour:


The difficult part of love

Is being selfish enough,

Is having the blind persistence

To upset an existence

Just for your own sake...


The poem was published in Critical Quarterly, Summer 1966 though Larkin apparently forgot having written the work. In a letter to Critical Quarterly’s co-founder, Brian Cox, in 1969 Larkin wrote: 'A publisher wrote recently to ask if he could reprint a poem Love from Critical Quarterly: I had forgotten writing such a poem, much less publishing it. I thought it rather good...'  Between 1954 and 1966, Brian Cox lectured in English at Hull University where Larkin was the Librarian from 1955 until his death in 1985.


Poetry: Poetical Manuscripts and Portraits of Poets,  is the fruit of 40 years of collecting by the poet and scholar Roy Davids and is the finest collection of poetry ever to come to auction.  In Mr David’s own words, “it would now be impossible for the present collection to be even approximately replicated.’

For more information on the sale, go to www.bonhams/books.