Librarian tops poll

OK, I am cheating a little. The Times has produced a list of the greatest British writers since 1945, and Philip Larkin heads the list. Larkin was of course Librarian at the University of Hull for many years.

"My job as University Librarian is a full-time one, five days a week, forty-five weeks a year. When I came to Hull, I had eleven staff; now there are over a hundred of one sort and another. We built one new library in 1960 and another in 1970, so that my first fifteen years were busy" (Paris Review interview, 1982). [Homage to Philip Larkin - The New York Review of Books]

Here are the subject headings for Larkin pulled out in Worldcat Identities:

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Of course, the list is meant to invite discussion. I was interested in the children's authors listed, and was surprised to see Alan Garner come in at number 28 and Rosemary Sutcliff at 49. Each of these was a favorite of my young reading life and maybe this says something about the profile of the Times staff who made the assessment... I recently tried introducing our nine year old to Garner and Sutcliff. Sutcliff was perhaps too 'antique' in style. Garner was more engaging: he would have been even more engaging if there was a movie. Now that we have had Tolkein, Lewis and Pullman movies (all these authors are on the list), maybe Garner will be considered ;-)

I looked up timelines in Identities:

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The Larkin literature will grow as his reputation continues to grow.

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New editions of Garner and Sutcliff continue to appear.

And here are the FAST subject headings associated with Larkin. Some library ones in there!

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Sad confession: I bought Andrew Motion's biography of Larkin years ago. I fear I have never read it all the way through. I have looked through the index though and noted the discussions about the ILS and about his professional library colleagues.

Comments: 1

Jan 25, 2008
Owen Stephens

I have to admit I found Garner heavy going and slightly antique when I read him 25 years ago - there have been some TV adaptations in the past of several of his books, so surely some big screen adaptations can't be far off (although considering the hash they seem to have made of 'The Dark is Rising' by Susan Cooper recently, this is something of a mixed blessing). Anyway, the adaptation that I really enjoyed was a audio book of the Weird Stone of Brisingamen - this was a favourite on long car journeys, and the closing words of the adaptation still ring in my ears today - "this is the tale of the Weird Stone of Bris-sing-ga-men, and here, is an end to it" cue dramatic music and fade - brilliant!