Odds and quads

May 20, 2010

The poet Philip Larkin was librarian at the University of Hull from 1955 until his death in 1985. It was there that he wrote much of the work in his most celebrated collections, The Whitsun Weddings (1964) and High Windows (1974).

In 2001, Larkin's long-term partner Monica Jones bequeathed to the university a strange and touching collection of his possessions, including his thick NHS glasses, duffel coat, lawnmower, umbrella, bow ties and the armchair in which he wrote some of his early works.

Since he wrote two celebrated poems about toads, the collection also includes this ceramic frog-shaped money box, sent by an admirer as the next best thing, which he kept on his custom-built desk in the library.

A "plague" of decorated fibreglass toads, sponsored by local businesses, will be a prominent feature of Hull's 25-week Larkin25 festival of theatre, film, poetry and his beloved jazz to mark the 25th anniversary of his death.

Starting on 12 June, it will conclude on 2 December (the date he died) with the unveiling of a statue of Larkin at Paragon Station.

Send suggestions for this series on the sector's treasures, oddities and curiosities to: matthew.reisz @tsleducation.com.

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