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Lost Philip Larkin poem discovered by BBC

6th December 2010

A previously unpublished poem by Philip Larkin has been uncovered by a BBC arts documentary.

Philip Larkin And The Third Woman, which will be broadcast on BBC Four tomorrow (December 7th), examines the relationship between the poet and Betty Mackereth, his secretary of 28 years and a former lover.

It is widely known that the poet had long-lasting romances with two women – Monica Jones and Maeve Brennan – but only recently discovered that he had a third important relationship.

When researching the documentary, the producers found a lost notebook of Larkin's, which contains the unseen work - 'Dear Jake' - and confirms that Mackereth became one of the writer's muses in his later life.

Professor James Booth, head of the English department at the University of Hull, commented: 'What we have here is another poem in the sequence of poems written to Betty, where she appears to [Larkin], in my view, as a muse of vitality and longevity, with a genuine emotional kick.'

In October, the British Library included a rare recording of Larkin reciting The Whitsun Weddings in front of a live audience for the first time on its British Poets: The Spoken Word CD.
 

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