When Philip met Monica: University of Leicester English Professor delivers lecture on Larkin

Posted by pt91 at May 11, 2012 10:10 AM |
Leicester Poetry Society lecture on Friday 11 May at 7.30pm at The Atrium, 105 Clarendon Park Road

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 11 May 2012

Professor Martin Stannard from the University of Leicester School of English will deliver the annual GS Fraser Lecture for Leicester Poetry Society on Friday 11 May, taking as his subject one of  the University of Leicester’s most famous staff relationships.

Before he became one of Britain’s greatest modern poets, Philip Larkin was Deputy Librarian at what was then called University College Leicester from 1946 to 1950. Here he met English Lecturer Monica Jones, with whom he started a lifelong love affair. Two years ago, Anthony Thwaite edited a collection of the poet’s correspondence Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica and this will form the basis of Professor Stannard’s lecture on Friday.

Monica Jones was still working here when Professor Stannard joined the University of Leicester in 1979 so he has some personal memories as well as academic insight into how Larkin’s relationship with his muse was reflected in his work, especially his well-known 1955 poem 'Mr Bleaney'.

Professor Stannard said: “I remember Monica fondly as an eccentric colleague. She turned up once to an examiners’ meeting first thing in the morning, bright-eyed, very much on the ball, and clearly drunk. She would wake people in the small hours with telephone calls when a wicket fell in Australia. Larkin, it seems, was equally eccentric but in a quieter way. Once she brought him to a Leicester University Theatre  production of The Winter’s Tale which he didn’t watch, instead reading the text on his lap.”

For more than 60 years, Leicester Poetry Society has been a small (but dedicated) group of published poets and non-writing members who enjoy reading, discussing  and listening to poems. GS Fraser was reader in Modern English Literature in the University’s School of English from 1959 to 1979; a contemporary of Jones and an early champion of Larkin’s work. He was Chairman of LPS and for 20 years taught poetry classes at the University’s adult education centre Vaughan College.

The lecture takes place at The Atrium, 105 Clarendon Park Road on Friday 11 May 2012, starting at 7.30pm. Non-members are welcome to attend by purchasing ‘temporary membership’ for £4 (£3 concessions). Please note that the event is at The Atrium and not at the regular LPS venue on Queen’s Road.


For more information, please contact Professor Martin Stannard on maj@le.ac.uk

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