The enormous popular appeal of Philip Larkin's poetry has long been established; but oddly little is known to his admiring public about the personality behind the work. The Selected Letters will change this, throwing light on a more complex, and in many ways more remarkable, figure than most readers will be expecting. Whether addressing his literary friends - who included Barbara Pym, Kingsley Amis and John Betjeman - or those less prominently placed, Larkin shows himself to have been one of the frankest and most generously entertaining letter-writers of the century. Confessions, jokes, advice, scurrilities, pronouncements on literature and jazz, impromptu verses published here for the first time, gossip and wisdom abound in these pages. They give an astonishing view of a great poet's progress from brash youth to rueful age, and, in complementing the poems, provide a biographical document that no serious reader can afford to ignore.