Two of a kind: Monica Jones proved Philip Larkin’s equal for racism and misogyny

By the time Philip Larkin died in 1985, he’d long since achieved national treasure status: his poems were critically admired as well as widely read; his reticence (‘the Hermit of Hull’) was a matter of affectionate respect; and his cantankerous published remarks about ‘difficulties with girls’, children, left-wing politics, and ‘abroad’ were generally embraced as proof of valiant individualism — or possibly a grouchy kind of joke. Thirty-five years later, after the publication of biographies and his previously private correspondence, his reputation is not so much changed as turned on its head: the outbursts of racism and misogyny that are splattered through his letters have for many readers cast a