Entertainment & Arts

Philip Larkin poem discovery discredited

Philip Larkin in 1964
Image caption Philip Larkin admired the poem's real author Frank Redpath

A leading literary magazine that claimed to have found an unpublished poem by Philip Larkin has admitted that it was the work of a different writer.

The Times Literary Supplement (TLS) recently printed In and Out, which was found in one of Larkin's workbooks in Hull's History Centre.

However, it has since been identified as being by Hull poet Frank Redpath.

The TLS said it regretted the error and that the poem had been authenticated by the Larkin estate and other experts.

"We now know this poem was, in fact, written by Frank Redpath, a much less well-known Hull poet who admired and was heavily influenced by Larkin, and we regret the error," a spokeswoman for the magazine said.

Redpath contributed to a 1982 anthology of Hull poets titled A Rumoured City, to which Larkin contributed a foreword.

Larkin's publisher Jean Hartley later recollected how Larkin told Redpath that, of those included: "Yours are the only poems in the book I would have been glad to have written."

'Perfectly Larkinesque'

In and Out made its way into Larkin's workbook in the form of two loose pages of typescript.

Earlier this month, the TLS said it had a "typeface and spacing that match many other examples of Larkin's finished poems".

The original article said: "Larkin clearly did not consider the poem worthy of publication; but nor did he destroy it entirely."

It did note that "the strangest thing about the poem is the absence of any of the usual meticulous drafts".

But it continued: "The text, however, speaks unambiguously for itself. There are striking similarities to work before and after the probable period of its composition: it not only shows where Larkin had come from, but where he was going next."

It added that the speaker was "a recognizably Larkinesque one", although it concluded that his "lingering immaturity does show through in places".

In a follow-up blog on Tuesday, the TLS wrote: "Contrary to what we and the Larkin scholars who inspected it believed, In and Out isn't by Larkin, after all. Yet it seemed so perfectly (too perfectly?) Larkinesque."

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