PRESIDENT & HVPs
The Philip Larkin Society is very lucky to have support from our President and Honorary Vice Presidents. They are not trustees and so do not attend committee meetings or take part in the day to day running of the society. Instead, they generously give their time to support our charitable aims by maintaining a lively and varied public profile particularly across the worlds of media, education and the arts.
Rosie Millard OBE: Rosie is a journalist, writer and broadcaster who you may know as Chair of BBC Children in Need. She is vice Chair of Opera North and was Arts Correspondent of the BBC for ten years (1994-2004). A graduate of University of Hull, Rosie was Chair of Hull UK City of Culture 2017.
James Booth: James was editor of the PLS Journal About Larkin from 1997-2020. His leading biography Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love was published in 2014 and he edited Larkin’s Trouble at Willow Gables (2002) and Letters Home (2018). James was a lecturer in English Literature at the University of Hull from 1968 until his retirement and a trustee of the Society for many years, before becoming an HVP.
Archie Burnett: Professor of English at Boston University, Archie edited The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin (2012) which brings together all of Philip Larkin’s poems including the Early Poems and Juvenilia (2005), and some unpublished pieces from Larkin’s typescripts and workbooks.
Tom Courtney: Hull born, Tom is a much loved English actor who has appeared in countless roles on stage and screen, including the iconic British New Wave film Billy Liar in 1963. In 2002, based on an idea by Michael Godley, Courtenay compiled a one-man show Pretending To Be Me based on the letters and writings of poet Philip Larkin, which first played at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. It later transferred to the Comedy Theatre in the West End in London.
Eddie Dawes: Eddie was the founder chairman of the Philip Larkin Society. At the University of Hull, Eddie was founding head of the Biochemistry department and chairman of the library committee, which was where he struck up a long term friendship with Philip Larkin. As a globally respected magician, Eddie is the historian for the Magic Circle and has written hundreds of articles about magic.
Imtiaz Dharker: Imtiaz is a poet, artist and video film maker who was born in Lahore and grew up in Glasgow. Like Philip Larkin, Imtiaz holds the Queen’s Gold Medal for poetry, and her poetry is widely taught in schools. Also like Larkin, she appeared on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs reflecting memorably and movingly on her life and work. In 2017, Imtiaz was commissioned to write the long poem This Tide of Humber for the Contains Strong Language festival as part of the Hull City of Culture celebrations.
Barbara Everett: Born in Canada, Barbara is an academic, literary critic and poet, whose work has appeared frequently in the London Review of Books and The Independent. She is recognised as a leading Shakespeare scholar and appeared in Al Pacino’s Looking for Richard, discussing Richard III. Barbara has published many articles about the poetry of Philip Larkin and Poets In Their Time: Essays on English Poetry from Donne to Larkin (Clarendon Paperbacks, 1997).
Martin Jennings: Martin has been making public sculpture in Britain for many years. His representations of great writers and poets are particularly well-known: John Betjeman at St Pancras Station, Philip Larkin in Hull, Charles Dickens in Portsmouth and George Orwell outside BBC Broadcasting House. Martin also created the Larkin plaque at King Cross station and the memorial stone in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey.
Alan Johnson: Alan is a British politician who was the Member of Parliament for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle from 1997 to 2017. Johnson served in the Cabinet for both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He has written four volumes of memoirs and a novel; The Late Train to Gipsy Hill (2021).
Andrew Motion: Sir Andrew Motion is a poet, novelist, and biographer, who was Poet Laureate from 1999 to 2009. Andrew taught English at the University of Hull from 1976 to 1980 where he met Philip Larkin. Motion was later appointed as one of Larkin’s literary executors, and in 1993 published Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life, which won the Whitbread Prize for Biography.
Rosemary Parry: Rosemary (nee Hewett) was Philip Larkin’s niece and god-daughter. Her collection of 2500 letters from Larkin have helped readers learn much more about Larkin’s outlook and family relationships.
Grayson Perry CBE: Grayson is an artist, writer and broadcaster. His work features many references to Philip Larkin. In 2017 he gave the Annual Distinguished Lecture for the Philip Larkin Society at the Middleton Hall, Hull and was shown round the city by trustees of the Society. He was gifted a framed pair of Larkin’s socks that can often be spotted on the wall in his studio on Channel 4’s Grayson’s Art Club.
Dale Salwak: Dale is a professor of English at Citrus College, California and has published over 25 books, including Philip Larkin: The Man and His Work (Palgrave Macmillan, 1989) which gathered an astonishing range of essays from friends and admirers of Larkin. He is also a professional magician. Dale regarded Philip Larkin as a friend, keeping up a correspondence with Larkin and visiting him in Hull.
Ann Thwaite: Ann is a writer and biographer of EE Milne and Francis Hodgson Burnett among others. Ann has travelled around the world, but settled in Norfolk with her husband, founding PLS President Anthony Thwaite, who sadly died in 2021. Ann is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and along with Anthony was a good friend of Philip Larkin’s.