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Philip Larkin's Oxford Book of Twentieth-Century English Verse provoked controversy and dispute on first publication in 1973. Warmly welcomed by fellow poets John Betjeman and W.H. Auden, it was also considered a quirky and idiosyncratic collection by some critics. Today it is recognized as a fine and wide-ranging selection of modern verse, valuable t least because it reflects the tastes of one of the best, and best-loved, English poets of the twentieth century. As the successor to W.B. Yeats's Oxford Book of Modern Verse 1892-1935, this anthology made a radical re-assessment of the century's achievement in poetry; it represented verse that was 'lighter in tone, more understated, more casual, more conversational, more colloquial, in a way more democratic and more domestic than it was for Yeats'. It also introduced many little-kwn poets whose names have t entered the can, and whose contributions add colour and depth to the anthology. As Philip Larkin writes in his Preface, in choosing poems rather than individuals he has brought together 'poems that will give pleasure to their readers both separately and as a collection'. For this latest reissue, the poet's biographer Andrew Motion has written a new Foreword in which he considers the nature of Larkin as editor.
Philip Larkin's best-known poetry collections (all Faber) include The Less Deceived (1955); The Whitsun Weddings (1964) and High Windows (1974). Recent editions of his letters, and a biography by Andrew Motion have revived interest in the man as well as the poet.