The Porter`s Daughter by Winifred Dawson (Arnott)
THE LIFE OF AMY AUDREY LOCKE
A pioneer professional woman historian
17th June 1881 - 19th June 1916
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Softback cover shown by permission of The University of Reading, Hardback copies are covered in dark maroon cloth, with gold lettering along their spines.
[Two accounts of the author have been published. One was her obituary published in the Guardian on Thursday 28th August 2014 and subsequently reprinted in the Journal of The Philip Larkin Society, No 38. October 2014, ISSN 1362-542X. The other, a somewhat expanded version of the account of her life delivered by her second husband at her funeral on 11th September 2014, this also being now in the above Journal and available from The Philip Larkin Society, for example via their website. The book Philip Larkin, Life Art and Love published by Bloomsbury in 2014 covers the whole of the poet`s life and as part of it describes and assesses Win`s impact on him. Details of archives holding papers and other material relating to Win are given at the foot of the NEWS page of this website.]
In brief, Win was born in Stourbridge, England and spent her early years in North East England before the 1939 ourtbreak of war resulted in her being evacuated to her father`s relations in Northern Ireland. There the bombing of Belfast and its surroundings caused her and about fifty other girls in her school, Princess Gardens, to be evacuated to an old Hugenot castle near the Irish Sea coast where science teaching was almost non-existent, but where she had encouragement and almost endless opportunity to get to know and love a great range of English poetry and literature. As so many have since remarked, she was highly intelligent, was ready for University by sixteen, but was kept back a year to help her reach maturity -a period in school which resulted in her appreciation of literature becoming even further developed. After three years in Queens University Belfast, and learning much on how to deal with both sober and drunk young men, she was offered a job as an cataloguer in Queens` great library.
Soon after starting work, the poet Philip Larkin arrived to take up one of the four Sub-Librarian posts. He soon met Win, they got on very well together, frequently visited each other`s lodgings, and went on long walks, cycle rides and various expeditions. But uniquely amongst all of his women friends, their relationship remained platonic: as she later said , he was much older than she was and balding. However it eventually turned out that she had inspired more of his poetry than had any other person. She certainly inspired the five well known poems mentioned in the Guardian obituary (above), and insisted that she had also influenced Philip in several others.
Her first marriage came about after she had left Belfast to attend a archivist`s course in Birkbeck College London and met her husband through their common enjoyment of choral singing
In later years, and especially after her second marriage, she broke out into a great variety of activities even before discovering Amy Audrey Locke and all of her affairs. Amongst these, Win`s greatest joy and most frequent occupation was very probably planning and going on all sizes and lengths of expeditions to somehow try to get to know the whole of Britain, Italy and many other parts of the world. However, as The Philip Larkin Journal makes clear, many will remember her in quite different contexts such as choral singing, library business, engagement in Philip Larkin Society affairs, or for her simple kindness to them when in distress. She lived life to the full, loved many different people and enjoyed so much. Accounts of her may be found in many literary books. Her attention to her family, her poem celebrating her 21st year of second marriage, her articles about Philip Larkin, her book -The Porter`s Daughter - self-published at age 85, and her exuberant life provide a great example to all.
During the last 10-15 years of her life Win knew that she had a slowly developing form of blood cancer but except for her husband, told no one about it. But in early 2014 she had an attack of shingles and soon afterwards learnt that her cancer had started rapidly developing, and this prompted her to single mindedly concentrate on completing and self publishing her book about A A Locke. She just managed to finish this formidable task, but within days of attending her book launch party she had become seriously ill. When death came, her funeral was held as she wished in St. Matthew`s Church in Otterbourne near Winchester, the same place as that of Amy Audrey Locke whose biography she had only just completed. Amy`s grave is just outside the church`s north door, close to those of Charlotte Yonge and Keble.
Birth: 5 Feb 1929 in Stourbridge, Worcestershire. Her parents were
Samuel Clauson Arnott, an electrical engineer from Northern Ireland, and
Bertha Minett, his wife with some Welsh ancestry whom he married in Lancashire in 1927
First husband: C G Bradshaw PhD, father of Nicholas, Lucy & Hilary
Married Clapham, Bedfordshire on 12 June 1954. Family homes in Christchurch then Highcliffe, Dorset
Divorced 19 May 1977
Second husband: T W G Dawson, previously divorced.
Married Win on 16 April 1981. Family home in Highcliffe then Winchester, Hampshire
Death: 22 Aug 2014 in Royal Hampshire County Hospital.
Cause of death l(a) Aspiration Pneumonia, l(b) Cerebral Infarct,
ll Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia, Polymyalgia Rheumatica.
Win`s ashes were distributed by her daughter.