Thatcher’s Literary Dinners

In the early 80s Mrs Thatcher held dinners for writers, including poets Al Alvarez and Philip Larkin. Larkin was a big fan. In a letter to Julian Barnes 27 Sep 1985 Larkin wrote: “… Your anecdote reminds me of a brief exchange I once had with Mrs. T., who told me she liked my wonderful poem about a girl. My face must have expressed incomprehension. “You know” she said. “Her mind is full of knives.” I took that as a great compliment – I thought if it weren’t spontaneous she’d have got it right – but I’m a child in these things. I also thought that she might think a mind full of knives rather along her own lines, not that I don’t kiss the ground on which she walks. “
The poem is ‘Deceptions’ and starts with an epigraph from Mayhew’s ‘London Labour and the London Poor’.

There’s a rather good Radio 4 documentary about the dinners which you can hear here
The programme also looks at why she was so written about in fiction. Hilary Mantel reads from and discusses her short story ‘The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher’.

Official visit to Moscow Russia by Margaret Thatcher March 1987


One thought on “Thatcher’s Literary Dinners

  1. LJO

    Thatcher was a true shocker. So Larkin was a fan?! I did not know that! I did attempt to read one of Julian Barne’s novels years ago and absolutely detested it, something about a parrot. Really not sure what Larkin is wittering on about here, however lots of men fancied Thatcher, my friend’s dad had a picture of her in the loo. This was somewhat shocking to me as a student in London as I has grown up in a leftie provincial back water, no nouveau riche Conservative arrivistes there!


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