Philip Arthur Larkin, CH, CBE, FRSL (9 August 1922 – 2 December 1985) is commonly regarded as one of the greatest English poets of the latter half of the twentieth century. He was also a novelist and a jazz critic. He spent almost all of his working life as a university librarian. He first came to prominence with the publication in 1955 of his second collection of poems, The Less Deceived, which was followed by The Whitsun Weddings in 1964 and High Windows in 1974. He was offered the Poet Laureateship following the death of John Betjeman in 1984, but he declined the honour.
Larkin was born in the city of Coventry. From 1930 to 1940 he was educated at King Henry VIII School in Coventry and, in October 1940, in the midst of the Second World War, he went up to St John's College, Oxford, to read English language and literature. Having been rejected for military service because of his poor eyesight, he was able, unlike many of his contemporaries, to follow the traditional full-length degree course and attained a first-class honours degree in 1943. While at Oxford he met Kingsley Amis, who would become a lifelong friend and frequent correspondent.
Shortly after graduating from Oxford, Larkin was appointed municipal librarian at Wellington, Shropshire. In 1946 he became assistant librarian at University College, Leicester and, in 1950, sub-librarian at Queen's University Belfast. By this time he had published two novels and his first collection of poetry. In March 1955 Larkin was appointed librarian at the University of Hull, a position he retained until his death.