The most widely read British poet of the twentieth century, Philip Larkin was also a keen amateur photographer and through his life he made images of the people, places and things that meant most to him. The Importance of Elsewhere gathers the best of Larkin’s photographic work, divided into short thematic chapters arranged in chronological order. Written by Richard Bradford, the acclaimed author of the Larkin biography First Boredom, Then Fear, the book shows how Larkin, as an individual, as a writer and indeed as a photographer, developed an acute sensitivity to all aspects of the world around him, from his love of open uninhabited landscapes and empty churches to his mixed feelings about crowds. There are also fascinating portraits of those people who were closest to Larkin, including his lovers, his mother and his literary peers. The book beautifully reproduces more than 200 images from the Larkin archive at Hull: the majority have never previously been seen in print. A substantial foreword by Mark Haworth-Booth, formerly curator of photography at the V&A, explores what it meant to be a serious amateur photographer of Larkin’s generation. Together with Larkin’s literary works and his letters, these images make up the third, so far unseen, constituent of the material upon which our future perceptions of him will be based.
Frances Lincoln 2015