For the first time ever, and fittingly in the centenary year of Larkin’s birth, PLS held its AGM and Annual Distinguished Guest Lecture in Coventry at Larkin’s old school, King Henry VIII. It was the first face-to-face AGM for three years and so a particularly exhilarating get together of old friends and a host of new members and trustees of the Society.
Those arriving early had a rare opportunity to view the School’s Larkin Archive, guided by Helen Cooper, the School’s Librarian and Archivist. We could feast over Larkin’s school reports (ranging from the ‘average’ performance of his earlier years to the achievements in the sixth form which gained him a place at St John’s College, Oxford) and his early writing in the School’s magazine, The Coventrian. Helen also gave us a fascinating guided tour of the old part of the School, which Larkin would have known, and even took us onto the roof to contemplate the damage caused by the 1941 air raid which Larkin himself experienced while staying in the family house on Manor Road (since destroyed by the Coventry Ring Road).
A charred Bible damaged in the April 1941 air raid. It still smells of smoke!
Rachael Galletly, Merchandising Officer, with the new Larkin100 Tee-Shirts.
Philip Pullen, a PLS trustee and Chair of Larkin100 and himself a ‘Coventry Kid’, gave the annual lecture which focused on Larkin’s childhood and adolescent experiences in the city.
Philip’s talk can be viewed here.
Ben Kyneswood, of Coventry University, and the City of Culture’s Digital Archivist introduced us to the new online Larkin Trail, based on the original version written by Don Lee, and which can be found on the Coventry Digital Website.
A copy of Ben’s presentation can be found here.
The day ended with a talk arranged by the School and featuring international author, Pete Ho Davies, a previous pupil of King Henry VIII. Peter’s fascinating talk centred on the writer’s invisible art of revision with several references to the work of Philip Larkin.
Peter’s talk can be found here.