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To Anthony Thwaite at Fifty

Clive James, 4 December 1980

... Aristophanes Well, Anthony, by now the secret’s out Of what this book is really All About. The heavyweights have weighed in in your praise With mighty line and lapidary phrase Whereby both Life and Death are shown to be Imbued with enigmatic majesty. To celebrate your fifty years ...

Phil the Lark

Ian Hamilton, 13 October 1988

Collected Poems 
by Philip Larkin, edited by Anthony Thwaite.
Faber/Marvell Press, 330 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 571 15196 5
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... poets had suddenly acquired a slightly messy family life. Apparently, it could have been messier. Anthony Thwaite has decided not to include various squibs and limericks (these will appear later on in Larkin’s Letters), and has also ruled against certain of Larkin’s unfinished pieces; he mentions an ‘attempt at a long poem called “The ...


Denis Donoghue, 21 June 1984

Selected Essays 
by John Bayley.
Cambridge, 217 pp., £19.50, March 1984, 0 521 25828 6
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Collected Poems: 1941-1983 
by Michael Hamburger.
Carcanet, 383 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 9780856354977
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Poems: 1953-1983 
by Anthony Thwaite.
Secker, 201 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 436 52151 2
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... One of Anthony Thwaite’s poems, ‘Tell it slant’, swerves from Emily Dickinson’s line ‘Tell all the Truth but tell it slant’ to settle upon an aesthetic procedure she would have been too nervous to enunciate: Truth is partial. Name the parts But leave the outline vague and blurred. Dickinson thought the truth should dazzle gradually, and that the best ploy was ‘circuit ...

Bugger me blue

Ian Hamilton, 22 October 1992

The Selected Letters of Philip Larkin 
edited by Anthony Thwaite.
Faber, 759 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 571 15197 3
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... Ted Hughes (‘boring old monolith, no good at all – not a single solitary bit of good’) and Anthony Powell, aka ‘the horse-face dwarf’. There is even a ‘Hi, Ian’: he calls me ‘the Kerensky of poetry’. Not too bad, I thought at first. Alas, though, the book’s editor advises me that Larkin almost certainly meant to say Dzerzhinsky, or ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: New Writing, 8 March 2001

... series might be directed at the number of familiar names on the contents page: Barbara Trapido, Anthony Thwaite, Anne Stevenson, Alan Brownjohn, Helen Simpson, Andrew Motion, Michael Hofmann, Alan Sillitoe, Louis de Bernières and Geoff Dyer are ten of them, and ‘new’ isn’t the first word that springs to mind. But there are plenty of good ...

Better than Ganymede

Tom Paulin: Larkin, 21 October 2010

Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica 
edited by Anthony Thwaite.
Faber, 475 pp., £22.50, October 2010, 978 0 571 23909 2
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... alcoholic) until his death in December 1985. She hardly left the house after this – according to Anthony Thwaite, who edited this collection – and died in February 2001. These letters are very different from those collected in the Selected Letters of Philip Larkin 1940-85. Those were spirited, eloquent, witty (anyone who met Larkin would have been ...


Barbara Everett, 7 May 1981

A Night in the Gazebo 
by Alan Brownjohn.
Secker, 64 pp., £3, November 1980, 0 436 07114 2
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Victorian Voices 
by Anthony Thwaite.
Oxford, 42 pp., £3.95, October 1980, 0 19 211937 0
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The Illusionists 
by John Fuller.
Secker, 138 pp., £3.95, November 1980, 0 436 16810 3
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... wide-swinging relativism the uncommitted term ‘voice’ has a special part to play. The title of Anthony Thwaite’s Victorian Voices seems to go beyond a use of the word to describe the Browningesque dramatic quality of these 14 verse monologues. It suggests also his subjects’ ambiguous relation with the real, their semi-symbolic function: they are ...


Barbara Everett, 10 November 1988

A Sinking Island: The Modern English Writers 
by Hugh Kenner.
Barrie and Jenkins, 290 pp., £16.95, September 1988, 0 7126 2197 0
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... first take a reader aback. Most of the 80 new poems drawn from notebooks and added by the editor, Anthony Thwaite, are unrecognisable as Larkinian. Many of them are early: only very slowly, between 1946 and 1953 – this last the year in which the poet was 30 – did he come to write ‘like himself’. His earliest verse of quality is the pastiche ...

Damp-Lipped Hilary

Jenny Diski: Larkin’s juvenilia, 23 May 2002

Trouble at Willow Gables and Other Fictions 
by Philip Larkin, edited by James Booth.
Faber, 498 pp., £20, May 2002, 0 571 20347 7
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... making a career around Larkin is that the output is quite small, and others, Andrew Motion and Anthony Thwaite, have already picked the meat out of the life. What’s left after a couple of books of literary criticism wouldn’t amount to a serious life’s work for a mayfly. Or shouldn’t. There is, however, an unmistakable reverential quality in ...


John Sutherland, 5 November 1992

Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biography 
by Ian Hamilton.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 09 174263 3
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Testamentary Acts: Browning, Tennyson, James, Hardy 
by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 273 pp., £27.50, June 1992, 0 19 811276 9
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The Last Laugh 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 131 pp., £10.99, December 1991, 0 7011 4583 8
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by Victoria Glendinning.
Hutchinson, 551 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 09 173896 2
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... masks. Small print tells us that these selections are from Larkin’s Selected Letters, edited by Anthony Thwaite – one of the keepers of Larkin’s flame, an executor. The other executors are Andrew Motion, Larkin’s authorised biographer, and Monica Jones, Larkin’s longtime companion. It was Miss Jones who undertook the destruction of the 25 ...

Larkin and Us

Barbara Everett, 4 November 1982

Larkin at Sixty 
edited by Anthony Thwaite.
Faber, 148 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 9780571118786
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The Art of Philip Larkin 
by Simon Petch.
Sydney University Press, 108 pp., £5.95, September 1982, 0 424 00090 3
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... than he did before. The problem is not simply that of the gap between life and literature, for Thwaite’s collection spans them, adding to anecdotes of the life criticism of the writing. The trouble is that the actual poet seems to elude both. The anecdotal richness of the first half (Noel Hughes on the schooldays, Amis on Larkin as an ...

Why aren’t they screaming?

Helen Vendler: Philip Larkin, 6 November 2014

Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love 
by James Booth.
Bloomsbury, 532 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 1 4088 5166 1
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... companion and lover, but never wife. The publication, in 2010, of Letters to Monica, edited by Anthony Thwaite, changed the earlier impression of Larkin’s mind and personality, especially the early ‘scandalous’ picture derived from Thwaite’s edition of Larkin’s Selected Letters (1992). In his introduction ...

Bad Dreams

Robert Crawford: Peter Porter, 6 October 2011

The Rest on the Flight: Selected Poems 
by Peter Porter.
Picador, 421 pp., £12.99, May 2010, 978 0 330 52218 2
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... overdoses on it. He had a weakness for lines like ‘Cantilena to their klangschönheit’; when Anthony Thwaite was told some of Porter’s poems were being translated into German, he is said to have asked if they weren’t in German already. Though Porter came to be lauded in England, it was sometimes for his weaker performances. Not The Cost of ...


Stefan Collini: The Movement, 25 June 2009

The Movement Reconsidered: Essays on Larkin, Amis, Gunn, Davie and Their Contemporaries 
edited by Zachary Leader.
Oxford, 336 pp., £18.99, May 2009, 978 0 19 955825 4
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... Pritchard, Eric Homberger, Michael O’Neill, Rachel Buxton) and the memoirists (Karl Miller, Anthony Thwaite, Robert Conquest), though several of them can lay claim to more than one of these identities. Varied though the essays are in both approach and theme, certain emphases recur. Perhaps the most interesting, urged by several of the poet-critics ...

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