This book traces the author's close friendship with the Philip Larkin and stretches over his 30 year tenure of office as librarian of the University of Hull, taking his literary achievement from "The Less Deceived" (1955) through "The Whitsun Weddings" (1964) to "High Windows" (1974).
It reveals Larkin in a new light - courteous, compassionate, generous; a man of deep sensitivity and charm with a natural sense of fun and instinctive wit - in contrast to the gloomy and somewhat objectionable portrait that has emerged since his death.
As an intimate friend for three decades, Maeve Brennan testifies to Larkin's idealism, romanticism and otherworldliness, qualities which inspired his lyrical poems but which are not readily associated with Larkin's public persona.
As a colleague she was well placed not only to observe Larkin's significant contribution to librarianship, in particular the planning and direction of one of Britain's first post-war libraries, but also his management style and administrative skills. She was thus ideally placed to assess, primarily, Larkin's development as a major poet, as well as his influence as a national librarian, showing how he used his stature as a writer to benefit his profession.
This is a unique memoir of the poet; the author's love affair with Larkin is interwoven with their shared professional interests and his literary achievements.
An appendix of 55 letters between Larkin and the author, of which only three have been previously published, corroborates the text.
It is also the first time both sides of Larkin's correspondence have appeared side by side.