Catalogue of the correspondence of Philip Larkin and Judy Egerton, 1954-1985

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Judith Priestman & Kate Longworth

2015

Department of Special Collections
Bodleian Library
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Correspondence of Philip Larkin and Judy Egerton, 1954-1985

Abstract:
Letters and cards exchanged between the poet Philip Larkin (1922-1985) and the art historian Judy Egerton (1928-2012) during the course of their thirty-year friendship.

Shelfmarks: MSS. Eng. c. 7449-7462; MS. Photogr. c. 185, fols. 79-88
Language of Material: English
Extent: 15 shelfmarks

Biographical History

For Philip Larkin, see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. See also Andrew Motion, Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life, (London, 1993).

Judith Emilie Egerton née Attiwill, art historian and curator, was born in Melbourne, Australia, on 7 Aug. 1928. An authority on the eighteenth-century artist George Stubbs, she worked at the Tate Gallery for many years. She married Reginald Ansell Day Egerton in 1949 but the marriage was disolved in 1974. The couple had two daughters, Bridget and Fabia. Judy Egerton died after a long illness on 21 Mar. 2012.

'Judy and Ansell Egerton were … important [friends of Larkin’s]. …their marriage was something Larkin could both envy and stand outside—creeping into its shelter for food and company (he played bridge with them regularly), but able whenever he wanted to slip back into his pensive bachelordom. Once again it was the wife, not the husband, who meant most to him. Ansell, who lectured in Economics at Queen’s [University, Belfast], was ambitious, pragmatic and a cricket-lover (years later, with Harold Pinter, he proposed Larkin for membership of the MCC [Marylebone Cricket Club]). After the Egertons had left Belfast in 1956, he worked as Assistant City Editor and then City Editor of The Times before becoming a merchant banker; eventually he was appointed a director of Rothmans International. Judy was younger than her husband—twenty-three when she first met Larkin in 1951—and simultaneously tough and innocent. She had been born in Australia, and as a History graduate became a tutorial Assistant at Queen’s. She was striking-looking, and her shyness endeared her to Larkin; she also shared his "passion for the Times crossword puzzle". As he got to know her better he discovered that she was as shrewd as her more loquacious companions. Following the Egertons’ return to London, and the eventual collapse of their marriage, she worked on Paul Mellon’s collection of British paintings and drawings. Subsequently she joined the Tate Gallery as a curator in 1974, organizing among other things the George Stubbs show in 1984 and the Joseph Wright of Derby exhibition in 1990. Until the end of his life, Larkin's affection for Judy never faltered; she became one of his most valued correspondents and confidantes.' Andrew Motion, Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life, (London, 1993), p. 211.

Scope and Content

The collection comprises: dated correspondence arranged chronologically, mainly letters and postcards, some enclosing photographs and/or news cuttings, sent between 1954 and 1985; undated correspondence, including postcards, notelets, letters and photographs.

Larkin writes to Egerton about his poetry; his health; his opinions of other writers and acquaintances; the time-consuming problems of building Hull University's new library; the continuing failure of England on the cricket pitch, and the pleasure he takes in staying with Egerton and her daughters during his regular visits to London. Egerton replies in kind, offering informed and congenial opinions on literature and aspects of metropolitan culture; relaying news of the Tate Gallery and her own work, and sustaining a mutually affectionate, discursive tone that contrasts with Larkin's robust interchanges with close male friends like Kingsley Amis, Robert Conquest and Bruce Montgomery.

Acquisition

Purchased from Judy Egerton, July 2003.

Preferred Form of Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Library [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Eng. b. 2070, fols. 1-2].

Personal names (NCA Rules)

Egerton | Judy | 1928-2012 | art historian
Larkin | Philip Arthur | 1922-1985 | poet

Corporate names (NCA Rules)

Marvell Press, publishers
Queen's University Belfast
Tate Gallery
University of Hull

Subjects (LCSH)

Poets, English -- 20th century -- Correspondence

Descriptive List


Correspondence, 17 Oct. 1954-28 May 1957
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. c. 7449
Extent: 125 leaves

Scope and Content:

Includes

  • (fol. 52) a letter from Larkin to Ansell Egerton, 18 May 1957.
  • (fol. 53) a photocopy of a photograph of Larkin seated outdoors in hat and overcoat, the original inscribed by him 'To Ansell & Judy from Philip. JB Wain pinxit', enclosed with a letter from Larkin, 18 May 1956; see MS. Photogr. c. 185, fol. 79.
  • (fol. 59 verso) an envelope annotated by Larkin, 12 July 1956.
  • (fol. 64) a photocopy of a photograph of Larkin seated indoors aged c.33, enclosed with a letter from Larkin, 22 July 1956; see MS. Photogr. c. 185, fol. 80.
  • (fol. 101) a postcard from Larkin to Ansell Egerton, 15 Feb. 1957.

Correspondence, 10 June 1957-29 Dec. 1958
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. c. 7450
Extent: 117 leaves

Scope and Content:

Includes

  • (fols. 14 verso, 35 verso, 63 verso) envelopes annotated by Larkin.
  • (fols. 73-74) a letter from 'Barbara', 14 May 1958 = Res.
  • (fol. 100) a photocopy of a photograph of Ansell Egerton, enclosed with a letter from Judy Egerton, 11 Nov. 1958; see MS. Photogr. c. 185, fol. 81.

Correspondence, 19 Jan. 1959-24 Apr. 1960
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. c. 7451
Extent: 118 leaves

Scope and Content:

Includes

  • (fols. 6 verso, 27 verso, 50, 54 verso, 105, 117 verso) envelopes annotated by Larkin, 1959-1960.
  • (fol. 58) a newspaper cutting about the new University Library at Hull, 7 Sept. 1959, annotated by Larkin.
  • (fols. 96-97) a note from Larkin, illustrated with a cartoon, accompanying the gift of a hat for Bridget Egerton, with (folo. 97) Bridget's reply, 14 Jan. 1960.
  • (fol. 100) a letter from Larkin to Egerton, illustrated with a cartoon, 17 Jan. 1960.

Correspondence, 25 Apr. 1960-23 May 1961
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. c. 7452
Extent: 127 leaves

Scope and Content:

Includes

  • (fols. 8 verso, 27 verso, 39 verso, 81 verso) envelopes annotated by Larkin, 1960-1961.
  • (fol. 33) a photocopy of a photograph of Larkin with the Queen Mother, University Library, Hull, 20 June 1960, enclosed with a letter from Larkin, 16 Aug. 1960; see MS. Photogr. c. 185, fol. 82.

Correspondence, 23 May 1961-21 May 1962
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. c. 7453
Extent: 132 leaves

Scope and Content:

Includes

  • (fols. 7 verso, 35, 92, 114 verso) envelopes annotated by Larkin, 1961-1962.
  • (fol. 54) a postcard from Egerton annotated by Larkin, 11 Oct. 1961.
  • (fol. 72) an envelope annotated by Larkin with notes, doodles and cartoons, 17 Apr. 1962.

Correspondence, 16 Apr. 1963-22 Feb. 1967
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. c. 7454
Extent: 140 leaves

Scope and Content:

Includes

  • (fol. 7) a greetings card from Larkin illustrated with a cartoon by him, c.7 Aug.[1963?].
  • (fols. 74-76) photocopies of three photographs of the Egertons' house in Ashmansworth, enclosed with a letter from Egerton, 2 June 1965; see MS. Photogr. c. 185, fols. 83-85.
  • (fol. 86) an envelope illustrated with doodles by Larkin, 26 Sept. 1965.
  • (fols. 92, 94 verso, 104 verso, 111 verso, 113 verso) envelopes annotated by Larkin, 1965-1956.
  • (fol. 119 verso) an envelope annotated by Egerton, 22 May 1966.

Correspondence, 17 May 1967-26 June 1971
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. c. 7455
Extent: 140 leaves

Scope and Content:

Includes

  • (fols. 76 verso, 124 verso, 137) envelopes with Larkin doodles and annotations, 1969-1971.
  • (fol. 92) an envelope annotated by Larkin with Walter de la Mare's dates of birth and death, franked 14 Jan. 1970.

Correspondence, 7 July 1971-20 July 1973
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. c. 7456
Extent: 127 leaves

Scope and Content:

Includes

  • (fols. 45 verso, 50 verso, 81 verso, 97 verso, 103, 110 verso) envelopes with Larkin doodles and annotations.
  • (fol. 75) a letter from Larkin with two cartoon self-caricatures, 24 Nov. 1972.

Correspondence, 29 July 1973-8 Sept. 1975
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. c. 7457
Extent: 126 leaves

Scope and Content:

Includes

  • (fols. 9 verso, 11 verso, 110 verso) envelopes annotated by Larkin, 1973-1975.
  • (fols. 52-59) a letter from Egerton discussing and enclosing a copy of her application for the post of Assistant Keeper at the Tate Gallery, with an annotated copy of the reference that Larkin provided in support, 9 Apr. 1974.

Correspondence, 13 Sept. 1975-6 May 1980
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. c. 7458
Extent: 122 leaves

Scope and Content:

Includes

  • (fols. 43 verso, 49 verso, 55 verso, 107 verso) envelopes annotated by Larkin, 1977-1979.
  • (fol. 49) an envelope with no letter enclosed.

Correspondence, 8 May 1980-4 Apr. 1981
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. c. 7459
Extent: 94 leaves

Scope and Content:

Includes

  • (fols. 14-15) two newspaper cuttings from The Times about the sale of the manuscript of 'In Memoriam', 1980.
  • (fol. 33) a letter to Egerton from Owen Hickey of The Times concerning her appeal for Larkin's inclusion in the regular 'Birthdays Today' feature, returned by Larkin with a letter of 18 Sept. 1980.
  • (fols. 53 verso, 85 verso, 91 verso) envelopes annotated by Larkin, 1980-1981.
  • (fol. 54) a list of artworks bequeathed to the University of Hull by Professor A.G. Dickens, 1980.
  • (fol. 87 verso) an envelope annotated by Egerton, 1981.

Correspondence, 7 Apr. 1981-13 May 1982
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. c. 7460
Extent: 92 leaves

Scope and Content:

Includes

  • (fol. 26) a cutting from The Times of 'Birthdays Today' featuring Larkin, enclosed with a letter from Egerton, 8 Aug. 1981; see MS. Eng. c. 7459, fol. 33.
  • (fol. 55) a letter illustrated with a cartoon by Larkin, 8 Dec. 1981.
  • (fol. 58) a postage stamp annotated by Egerton, 16 Dec. 1981.
  • (fol. 82 verso) an envelope annotated by Larkin, 28 Apr. 1982.
  • (fols. 90-92) an invitation and guest list annotated by Larkin for the 'Larkin at Sixty' event held at Faber and Faber offices, enclosed with a letter from Larkin, 13 May 1982.

Correspondence, 21 May 1982-16 Apr. 1984
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. c. 7461
Extent: 93 leaves

Scope and Content:

Includes

  • (fols. 4-5) a cutting of an article by Egerton, 'Racing to Save a Stubbs Masterpiece', Country Life, 13 May 1982.
  • (fol. 9) a cutting of a review by Derwent May of Larkin at Sixty, Listener, 3 June 1982.

Correspondence, 1 May 1984-22 Oct. 1985 and n.d.
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. c. 7462
Extent: 115 leaves

Scope and Content:

Includes

  • (fols. 11 verso-12, 22 verso-23, 29 verso-30) letters from Larkin describing Humphrey Ocean's portrait of him, 1984.
  • (fols. 17, 28) envelopes annotated by Larkin, 1984.
  • (fols. 73-75) Larkin's last letter to Egerton, 22 Oct. 1985.
  • (fols. 76-115) undated and conjectually dated cards and notes.
  • (fol. 111) a postcard to Larkin from Fabia Egerton, n.d.
  • (fol. 114) a photocopy of a passport-size photograph of Larkin, inscribed by him 'ADMIT Ian McLeod J.B. Priestley or P.A. Larkin', n.d.; see MS. Photogr. c. 185, fol. 86.
  • (fol. 115) a photocopy of two colour photographs of Larkin in the garden of an unidentified house, possibly Newland Park, n.d.; see MS. Photogr. c. 185, fols. 87-88.

Transformation from XML to HTML by Lawrence Mielniczuk
30 January 2015