(Whilst the work of passionate Welsh poet Dylan Thomas is discussed in the comments to yesterday’s post The Welsh Bot, we turn our attention now to mild-mannered bespectacled English poet Philip Larkin.)
“Yes, I got the pictures – whacko. I admired the painstaking realism of it – I mean, the teacher did really look like a teacher, & I greatly appreciated the school-like electric bell on the wall. The action and standard of definition left something to be desired – I’ll leave you to guess what.”
This was Philip Larkin (left) writing in a letter dated 1959. The “action” he doesn’t describe wouldn’t take much guessing for readers of this site.
Larkin is known to have had a large collection of magazines featuring schoolgirls being spanked and caned, and would regularly trawl Soho with like-minded friends looking for new material.
Two unpublished lesbian spanking novels, which he wrote in his final year at Oxford in 1943, were kept at Hull University where the poet worked as a librarian.
Written in the form of boarding school story pastiches under the pseudonym Brunette Colman , they were unearthed and published in 2001, six years after his death.
Whilst working on the stories he wrote to a friend:
“I’m spending my time doing an obscene lesbian novel in the form of a school story. I cannot let it out of my sight as it’s too incriminating.”
I doubt somehow that he would ever have imagined his undergraduate erotic scribblings being published in a hardback Faber and Faber edition!
Written for the entertainment of his Oxford friends, Trouble at Willow Gables tells the story of Hilary, “a semi-intellectual six-former”, who develops a crush on Mary, “an athletic fourth form girl”.
Hardened readers of spanking stories will find much to enjoy. Have no doubts, Larkin was one of us. All the signs are there. He’s good on uniforms, of course. But, more importantly, he can’t help gravitating towards the buttocks of his schoolgirls.
The heroine is a slightly plump girl with a big bottom. She enjoys her food. In one scene, she gets lost in a wood at night, tears her tight trousers at the seat, and is forced to face the morning with her “alabaster bottie” hanging out. Lovely.
There is also a vigorous punishment scene, when an innocent Marie is unjustly caned by the headmistress, while being held down by two burly prefects:
Marie, her hair dishevelled over her pale little face, her underlip mutinously jutting out, her tunic off-shoulder and her sash also, fought like a wild thing as Ursula, out of all patience, gripped her by the neck and forced her backwards over the headmistress’s desk, scattering ink and papers.
As Pam finally pulled Marie’s tunic down over her black stockinged legs, Miss Holden, pausing only to snatch a cane from the cupboard on the wall, gripped Marie by the hair and, with a strength lent by anger, forced her head down until she was bent nearly double. Then she began thrashing her unmercifully, her face a mask of ferocity, caring little how the blows fell as long as they found a mark somewhere on Marie’s squirming bottom.
The sequel, Michaelmas Term at St Bride’s, in which the girls from Willow Gables are re-united at Oxford, is unfinished. But he did get as far as a description of a good spanking:
At this point she grabbed Marie. With a flurry of golden hair and black velveteen, the younger girl twisted to escape but Philippa had learnt how to deal with Marie from long experience. In a very short time she was lying face downwards on Philippa’s silken knees, with her velvet skirt folded neatly around her waist. The belt had a curious metal buckle, which Philippa rightly adjudged would add a tearful sting to the lashes. Oblivious of Marie’s piteous tears, cried and struggles, she thrashed her till her forearm ached. Towards the end she even began to enjoy it.
Critic and journalist Kenneth Tynan, had his diaries published in the same year as the Larkin novels. The revelations about Tynan’s sadistic passion for caning and spanking seem to have permanently tarnished his reputation.
But the gentle, eccentric Larkin has not suffered a similar fate, On the contrary, he was chosen as Britain’s best-loved poet of the last 50 years in a 2003 survey by the Poetry Book Society.