Humberside

Philip Larkin handwritten poem sold for £7,500

Handwritten poem entitled 'Love'
Image caption Philip Larkin wrote the poem in December 1962

A handwritten poem that Philip Larkin forgot he had written has sold at auction for £7,500.

Love was written in December 1962, while Larkin was a librarian at Hull University, and was published in the journal Critical Quarterly in 1966.

The auctioneers, Bonhams, said it was the first time a handwritten poem by Larkin had come to auction.

The manuscript is part of an extensive collection built up by collector Roy Davids over 40 years.

Bonhams said a letter Larkin wrote in 1969 to Brian Cox, the co-founder of Critical Quarterly, showed he had forgotten about the work.

"A publisher wrote recently to ask if he could reprint a poem Love from Critical Quarterly: I had forgotten writing such a poem, much less publishing it. I thought it rather good...," he wrote.

The poem's first stanza reads: "The difficult part of love / Is being selfish enough / Is having the blind persistence / To upset an existence / Just for your own sake / What cheek it must take."

'Magical significance'

James Booth, literary adviser to the Philip Larkin Society, said: "This is very unusual, he didn't tear out pages, or if he did he kept them. He was very careful of his literary manuscripts."

Prof Booth added that though the manuscript was not biographically significant, it did have "magical significance" simply for being in the poet's handwriting.

Larkin found fame in 1955 after publishing his collection The Less Deceived and went on to become one of the foremost figures in 20th Century poetry.

Bonhams estimated that the manuscript would sell for between £3,000 and £4,000.

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