It’s no secret here on the Ramblings that I’m a huge admirer of the poetry of Philip Larkin; I’ve written before about first reading his work at school and retaining a love of his poems throughout my life. Behind the scenes, however, he’s a complex and often difficult character; as well as being in serial and simultaneous relationships, his views on race and sex can be problematic and his treatment of his female partners leaves a lot to be desired. One of the women in his life, the one who has the strongest claim to be his muse and who was his eventual partner, has had bad press over the years. Monica Jones knew Larkin the longest, and in many ways sacrificed the best part of her life to him. She’s been satirised and marginalised in ways that leave me very uncomfortable. So I was very pleased to come across a new book which promised to shed new light on her and reclaim a life for her in her own right.

Monica’s book plus my Larkins!

The book is “Monica Jones, Philip Larkin and Me” by John Sutherland. The latter studied under Jones at Leicester University and so knew her personally. In the book, he gains access to her letters and reconstructs the life of a fascinating, complext, intelligent woman who’s not really been give the credit she deserves. The book is a wonderful and very personal piece of work which I loved, and have written about for Shiny New Books – you can read my review here!