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Brunette Coleman
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Author:  Gottfried [ 02 Oct 2016, 16:14 ]
Post subject:  Brunette Coleman

I was rather amused to learn that the poet Philip Larkin was very fond of girls' school stories when he was a teenager. He apparently read all the big names - EBD, EJO, DFB and several with which I was unfamiliar, particularly Dorothy Vicary. When Larkin was in his final year at Oxford in 1943 and still trying out various types of writing, he decided to write some material of his own, under the name of Brunette Coleman. Among the results were two fairly short novels and some poetry. The novels, 'Trouble at Willow Gables' and 'Michaelmas Term at St Bride's, are spoofs in the manner which might be expected of a 21-year-old student and although well-written, betray a rather schoolboyish interest in spanking and lesbianism! These were never meant for publication, though and were intended to amuse Larkin' s friends. The poems, however, are very charming, and, according to Professor James Booth, author of the recent Larkin biography, 'Life, Art and Love' the Brunette Coleman persona enabled Larkin to try out a different poetic voice. I am quite taken with one, School in August, two stanzas of which I have quoted below:

The cloakroom pegs are empty now,
And locked the classroom door,
The hollow desks are dim with dust,
And slow across the floor
A sunbeam creeps between the chairs
Till the sun shines no more

Who did their hair before this glass?
Or scratched 'Elaine loves Jill'
One drowsy summer sewing-class
With scissors on the sill?

Author:  Noreen [ 02 Oct 2016, 17:22 ]
Post subject:  Re: Brunette Coleman

That is rather good, Gottfried - and very evocative, even though I was never at a girls' school myself. But it does capture rather neatly the 'otherness' of any place of activity when seen out-of-hours.

ETA: Not sure I take to the pen-name - seems a bit excessively girly, somehow.

Author:  Gottfried [ 02 Oct 2016, 18:25 ]
Post subject:  Re: Brunette Coleman

That's because, according to Prof. Booth, Larkin based the name, again to amuse his friends, on Blanche Coleman, the leader of a popular "all-girl" band in the early 1940s.

Author:  Noreen [ 02 Oct 2016, 19:53 ]
Post subject:  Re: Brunette Coleman

OIC - fair enough!

Author:  ivohenry [ 03 Oct 2016, 16:41 ]
Post subject:  Re: Brunette Coleman

I have read part of Trouble at Willow Gables, but I gave up after about 20 pages, may be well-written, but I didn't find it very amusing and had books I wanted to read more. Maybe I should try it again sometime.

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