Philip Larkin’s birthplace, Radford, Coventry

 

Philip was born in this former council house, presumably on his parent’s bed in the front bedroom on 9th August 1922. There was a full moon that night. He was late and had thick black hair which didn’t remain over his lifetime.

 

He lived here with his parents Sydney and Eva and sister Kitty until he was five years old. Little is written about Kitty who was ten years older. Though Philip was indulged and pampered he would look back as childhood as “a forgotten boredom.” Aged four or five years he developed a stammer that would remain with him until his thirties. He also had bad eyesight that remained until his death.

 

Sydney was from Lichfield in Staffordshire and Eva was from Epping in Essex and they met on a holiday in Rhyl in Wales. Rain forced Eva to run into a hut to find shelter. Sydney was already there and interrupted the quietly-spoken Eva who was reading to introduce himself. He was on a cycling holiday and was only in Rhyl for another three days. Within these three days they were engaged. They were married five years later as Sydney, who would become a self-made man, was at the beginning of his career which peaked with him becoming a Borough Treasurer.

 

The Larkins moved into this large comfortable house when Sydney’s employers arranged for somewhere for him to live when there was a housing shortage due to the war. Sydney and Eva ran a repressive household with few visitors. Relatives rarely called to wade into the gloom. Sydney was strict and authoritative and Eva was pitiable and compliant. Sydney’s shadow was cast across the whole of his son’s life deeming him atheistic, right-wing, racist and almost unlovable.

 

From this home the Larkin’s moved a large three-storey middle-class house complete with servant quarters near Coventry railway station. I would have visited it but it was demolished in the 1960s to make way for the construction of an inner ring road.

 

There was no blue plaque on this house. Some homeowners don’t want nosy nerds like me turning up on a Sunday afternoon with a camera and twenty questions.

 

 

 

Taken in 2017…

 

The house is on the left…

 

The older photo on Wikipedia…

 

Sydney and Eva ran a gloomy home…