'Find old books here and new books, too'

Posted by ap507 at Dec 04, 2013 09:55 AM |
Recording of Philip Larkin opening new University library on 27 September 1975 made public through University's Soundcloud for the first time
'Find old books here and new books, too'

Source: Wikipedia

Notable poet Philip Larkin, who died in December 1985, had a long history with the University of Leicester. Perhaps most famous was his relationship with Monica Jones, who lectured in English at the University and met Larkin while teaching in 1946.

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Philip Larkin as a toad in Hull, invoking memories of poems such as 'Toads Revisited'
During this time he worked as assistant librarian at the University, making up 1/3 of the staff, before he eventually became a librarian at the University of Hull.

A recording of Philip Larkin, dating from 27 September 1975 during a return trip to the University of Leicester - where Larkin is introduced by Chancellor Alan Lloyd Hodgkin shortly before opening the University's new library - has been made public for the first time via the University's Soundcloud account. Most recently, the recording was played to an eager audience at the Literary Leicester festival in 2008.

Libraries played a significant role in Larkin's life. In the recording, he entertains the crowd with his wit and references to his time with the University, describing the opening of the library as a symbolic moment for the institution and a powerful stimulus for learning - a message that still resonates today. His impassioned speech about libraries is reminiscent of one of Larkin's last poems, 'New Eyes Each Year' (right):

'New eyes each year
Find old books here,
And new books,too,
Old eyes renew;
So youth and age
Like ink and page
In this house join,
Minting new coin.'

In 1975 the library won an award from the Royal Institution of British Architects - of 257 buildings considered at the time, only 7 received this accolade.

Philip Larkin was an Honorary Graduate of the University of Leicester. Outside of his poetry, he was also a well-established jazz critic and novelist.

Listen to the podcast of Philip Larkin opening the new library, dated 27 September 1975, below:

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