TS Eliot rejected the poetry of Laurie Lee, December 2018
An article in the Sunday Telegraph draws upon the forthcoming further volume of The Letters of TS Eliot to reveal that Eliot rejected the poetry of a 23-year-old Laurie Lee.
In his rejection letter of 1937, Eliot wrote: “It is with regret that I must say that his poems do not seem to me, so far, remarkable enough to justify our undertaking their publication.”
But, he added, “This is, however, only the opinion of one man, who often feels that excessive reading of manuscript verse may have dulled his sensibility, and I therefore advise you to make a fresh attempt elsewhere.”
Editor John Haffenden comments that “Eliot was the greatest judge of poetry of the 20th century…and indeed Laurie Lee did not find his greatness as a poet.”
The Letters of TS Eliot Vol 8: 1936-1938 is scheduled for publication in January.
What happened to the original version of The Waste Land? December 2018
“Thank God he reduced a mess of some eight hundred lines to about half its size.” An article on The Literary Hub summarises the relationship between TS Eliot and Ezra Pound, and their work on the original version of The Waste Land. The article quotes letters, telegrams and interviews, and is excerpted from The Poems of TS Eliot Volume I by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue.
The Agèd Eagle – Epstein’s bust of TS Eliot, December 2018
In a fascinating Object in Focus article for the University of Birmingham, Dr Matthew Geary discusses Jacob Epstein’s famous bust of TS Eliot.
Geary details Eliot’s sitting for Epstein in 1951, and from this he charts the development of a heartfelt and unlikely friendship in the latter years of both men’s lives. He concludes that “great scholarly insights may yet be garnered from the Eliot-Epstein connection.”
TS Eliot’s apartment block for sale, December 2018
The Telegraph (paywall) reports that Kensington Court Gardens, where TS and Valerie Eliot lived, is up for auction.
The Eliots’ flat itself, occupied by the Trustees of the TS Eliot Foundation, is not for sale; the auction is of a reversionary ground rent investment in the apartment block, together with two other apartments.
The landlords say that “Eliot would often send his landlord witty verses complaining about the building’s plumbing or joking about the landlord’s hired handymen, Mick and Stan, whom he likened to a slapstick double act.”
TS Eliot’s Dialectical Imagination by Jewel Spears Brooker, December 2018
“Eliot and his modernist contemporaries were tormented by dualisms – the gap between mind and body, thought and feeling, male and female, the artists and society,” write the publishers. “This book, anchored in archival work and close reading, explores the evolution of Eliot’s attempt to deal with this impasse in art and in life.”
The author is described by Anthony Cuda, Director of the TS Eliot International Summer School, as “among the most accomplished of Eliot scholars; her list of publications, honours and achievements is staggering”; and her book is “an impressively comprehensive, exhaustively researched and refreshingly new examination… opening unexpected pathways into texts that have been obscured by old, entrenched interpretations.”
TS Eliot’s Dialectical Imagination has been described as “a first-rate study” by John Haffenden, editor of The Letters of TS Eliot. “Fresh knowledge and insights abound.”
Members of the TS Eliot Society UK are able to purchase the book with a generous 30% discount from the published price – see the Members Area for details.
The Letters of TS Eliot Vol 8: 1936-1938, November 2018
The 1000pp Volume 8 will span the years 1936 to 1938, covering the publication of his Collected Poems (1936), and the compilation of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. “Eliot corresponds with many of the best-known writers of the 1930s”, says the Spring catalogue from Faber, with names including Auden, Betjeman, Pound and Woolf.
“In addition, this volume makes public for the first time the correspondence detailing his wife Vivien’s admission to a psychiatric asylum. It also reveals Eliot’s care and concern for his intimate American friend Emily Hale.”
Publication is scheduled for 17th January, with a cover price of £50.
Literature, Science and TS Eliot, November 2018
Being Modern is a collection of essays from 17 contributors published by UCL Press. The book “builds on recent scholarly interest to explore engagement with science across culture from the end of the nineteenth century to approximately 1940.”
Among the essays, Professor Morag Schiach, Professor of Cultural History at Queen Mary, University of London, writes on Eliot’s use of the scientific term ‘catalyst’ to describe the mind of the poet; while Kevin Brazil, a Lecturer in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature at the University of Southampton, explores Eliot’s declaration that “poetry is a science” in T.S. Eliot: modernist literature, disciplines and the systematic pursuit of knowledge.
Available in hardback and paperback, the book can also be downloaded as a free, open access PDF from UCL Press
TS Eliot International Summer School 2019 open for registration, October 2018
Held annually in Bloomsbury, London, the 2019 TS Eliot International Summer School is now open for registration here.
From July 6th-14th, the Summer School welcomes to central London all with an interest in the life and work of TS Eliot. It is hosted by the Institute of English Studies of the University of London, which facilitates study and research across the field of English Studies.
The Summer School brings together some of the most distinguished scholars of T.S. Eliot and Modern Literature. This year’s seminar leaders and lecturers are also listed here. It also incorporates walks in London, and visits to Burnt Norton and to Little Gidding (for the Annual TS Eliot Festival). A fuller outline of the programme is here, and details of fees are here.
Places on the Summer School are limited to 100 and will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis.
Members of the TS Eliot Society (UK) are entitled to a 25% discount on Summer School fees – please see the Members Area for details.
The Poems of TS Eliot – paperback edition published, October 2018
The work was hailed on its publication in hardback almost three years ago; it was described as “A monumental achievement” by David Wheatley in The Guardian. Scroll down to November 2015 for links to a full list of reviews.
The paperback volumes each have a cover price of £25; the hardback volumes each have a cover price of £40, but are still available online for less.
Listen online to Michael Hastings’ play, Tom and Viv, October 2018
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as TS Eliot, and Lia Williams as Vivienne, this audio version of the drama, adapted and directed by Peter Kavanagh, was first broadcast by BBC Radio 4 in 2008.
You can listen online to the drama here until 6th November.
TS Eliot’s letter reveals details of receiving Nobel Prize, October 2018
A long, intimate letter from TS Eliot to his family has revealed details of what it was like to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in Stockholm.
Seventy years after Eliot’s award the letter, held in the Houghton Library, Harvard, has been released, at the time when this year’s prize, which is not being awarded, would have been made.
In the lengthy letter, Eliot describes his visit to Stockholm in detail, revealing details of the ceremony itself, and also his own discomfort at being recognised and asked for autographs. The letter ends, “It was a relief to reach Northolt Airport and find that nobody there took the slightest notice of me. And I hope that nobody will for some time to come.”
AN Wilson’s Return to TSEliotland on BBC4, October 2018
“From the halls of Harvard University to a Somerset village, via a Margate promenade shelter,” Wilson “traces Eliot’s life story as it informs his greatest works“.
“Wilson travels to the places that inspired them, visiting Eliot’s family’s holiday home on the Massachusetts coast, following the poet to Oxford… and on to London…[concluding] his journey by visiting some of the key locations around which the poet structured his final masterpiece, Four Quartets.”
Full details of the programme are here.
Robert Redford quotes East Coker, September 2018
In a rare interview broadcast by CBS News, the actor Robert Redford revealed his fondness for lines from TS Eliot’s East Coker: ‘For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.’
“It’s one of my favorite phrases,” said Redford. “Because you can’t guarantee where the trying is going to get you. So, you can’t guarantee the result. The only thing there is in its place is the trying. That’s where the action is.”
A visit to Gloucester, Massachusetts., and the Dry Salvages, September 2018
In TS Eliot’s Seaside Childhood, the Off The Path podcast from WSHU Public Radio pays a brief (7mins) visit to the Eliot childhood summer home in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and hears about a boat trip around the Dry Salvages.
Two Faber publications with Eliot connections, September 2018
Dear Mr Faber: The Untold Story of a Great Publishing House, by Toby Faber, draws upon “the words of the staff and authors who lived it – in letters, memoirs and diary entries”. It may provide further insight into Eliot’s time at Faber; publication is scheduled for May 2019.
And a new cover design graces an edition of The Waste Land, due in September 2019. The Faber poetry list is being celebrated decade by decade, featuring distinctive new covers and endpapers commissioned from a range of renowned printmakers, textile designers and pattern-makers.
Lemn Sissay to read Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, August 2018
The author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay has Tweeted:
Just in: TS Eliot Estate have offered me the best job ever: To be the voice of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.
Appropriately, this was Tweeted on 8th August – International Cat Day.
TS Eliot Studies Annual Seminar Prize, August 2018
The TS Eliot Studies Annual has announced the award of a prize for the best seminar paper presented by an early-career scholar at the the annual meeting of the US TS Eliot Society.
Graduate students and recent PhDs who attend a seminar at the annual meeting are eligible; “The winning paper will present original research and a persuasive argument in clear/fluent prose“. The winner will receive a monetary prize and a copy of the following year’s Annual. Details and eligibility conditions are on the Annual‘s Facebook page.
Summer repeat of In Our Time on Four Quartets, July 2018
The guests are Mark Ford, Professor of English and American Literature at University College London; David Moody, Emeritus Professor of English and American Literature at the University of York; and Fran Brearton,
Professor of Modern Poetry at Queen’s University, Belfast.
The programme is on the BBC iPlayer at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06f85fy
Contents of second TS Eliot Studies Annual announced, July 2018
The contents have been announced of Vol 2 of the TS Eliot Studies Annual.
Launched under John D Morgenstern in 2017, the Annual “strives to be the leading venue for the critical reassessment of Eliot’s life and work in light of the ongoing publication of his letters, critical volumes of his complete prose, the new edition of his complete poems, and the forthcoming critical edition of his plays.”
Contributors to Volume 2 include John D Morgenstern, Frances Dickey, Seamus Perry, John Haffenden and Jewel Spears Brooker. A full list of contents and contributors is here.
Wyndham Lewis’ portrait of TS Eliot: exhibition, essay and lecture, June 2018
For the first time since its rejection in 1938, the portrait of TS Eliot by Wyndham Lewis is being shown at the Royal Academy, London. Its rejection from the RA’s Summer Exhibition sparked Lewis’s resignation from the Academy. The portrait is being exhibited as part of the RA’s exhibition, The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Summer Exhibition (12th June to 19th August).
The portrait will be the subject of a talk at the Royal Academy, Work in focus: ‘Portrait of T.S. Eliot’ by Wyndham Lewis, on Friday 13th July at 11am. “Part publicity stunt, part sincere tribute, the portrait tells us as much about Eliot’s significance as about Lewis’s impishness.” Given by Dr Nathan Waddell, Senior Lecturer in the Department of English Literature at the University of Birmingham, and current Chairperson of the Wyndham Lewis Society, details of the talk are here.
And in the current issue of the Journal of the TS Eliot Society, Jaron Murphy explores in detail Eliot’s relationship with the portrait, “arguably the iconic image of Eliot internationally”. His essay is entitled “Mr Eliot has Re-Discovered a Portrait of Himself”: Reframing Lewis’s Rejected Masterpiece in the 21st Century. For details of how to obtain the Journal, scroll down two items.
Lord Harries lectures on TS Eliot’s conversion, June 2018
“From what was he converted?” asks the former Bishop of Oxford. “Why did he convert? What was the immediate effect of that conversion? The recently published 6 volumes of Eliot’s letters covering the period help shed light on the answers.” The lecture can be viewed online here.
Rare TS Eliot books feature in new Blackwell’s catalogue, June 2018
During his long relationship with Emily Hale, Eliot sent her a copy of each of his publications. This copy of The Eighteen-Eighties: Essays by Fellows of the Royal Society of Literature also carries Hale’s own bookplate (right), and may have been given away by her in 1957, upon Eliot’s marriage to Valerie Eliot. The catalogue tells more of the fascinating story behind the book, which is for sale at £8,500.
The catalogue also contains other Eliot rarities, including a First Edition of After Strange Gods; a signed copy of Murder In The Cathedral; a copy of Eliot’s Westminster Abbey funeral service; and a Faber & Faber Christmas card signed by TS Eliot. The catalogue is available to download here.
The Journal of the TS Eliot Society 2018, May 2018
Edited by Dr Scott Freer, it contains essays by Michael Levenson, Barry Spurr, Qiang Huang and Jaron Murphy, with book and event reviews by Matthew Geary and Mary Ann Lund. Full details of the contents are on the dedicated Journal page (navigation above).
The Journal is £8.00; send a cheque payable to TS Eliot Society to the Secretary at 73A Mill Road, Cambridge, CB1 2AW, with a self-addressed C5 envelope, stamped with £1.20 of postage. Copies will also be on sale at the TS Eliot Festival at Little Gidding on 8th July.
Members of the Society are entitled to a free copy of the Journal; either pick yours up at the Festival, or send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the Secretary as above.
Author Colm Tóibín “often wishes he was TS Eliot”, May 2018
“He lived to be old, was lucky in love late in life and he got to write Four Quartets.”
The full interview is here.
TS Eliot’s vocals on blues version of The Hollow Men, May 2018
Cut-up lines from Eliot’s recording are backed by a blues beat and slide guitars on the Ballistic Angels track, “feat Mr. Eliot”. Part of a “recycling music project”, you can listen to the track here.
Lyndall Gordon on Jeremy Irons’ readings of TS Eliot, May 2018
“Irons voices an Eliot,” she writes, “who craves, desires and suffers more openly than in the sober accents of Gielgud and Guinness.” The review is here.
TS Eliot, writing from Margate, April 2018
The British Library has published an article in its English and Drama blog entitled TS Eliot in Margate: Writing ‘The Waste Land’, which reproduces a letter from Eliot to to his friend and fellow author Sydney Schiff, describing his writing of “a rough draft of part of part III” of what was to become The Waste Land.
“I have done this,” he writes, “while sitting in a shelter on the front.” He says that he does not know “whether it will do”, and “must wait for Vivien’s opinion as to whether it is printable.”
The article and letter are here.
“I think you are today’s voice for Eliot”, Valerie told Jeremy Irons, April 2018
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Jeremy Irons talks about reading the poetry of TS Eliot; about Valerie Eliot’s approval of his reading style; and about the meditative state he tries to achieve prior to a reading.
“This isn’t getting as deep as I think Eliot is trying to get, but what I do is I smoke and I get out of noisy places and noisy dinners and I stand on the sidewalk or on the terrace,” he says, in The Poetic Side of Jeremy Irons. “I can’t bear the constant prattle of life.”
Jeremy Irons is reading Four Quartets live in London on April 9th; see below for details.
Jeremy Irons reads TS Eliot – new promotional website, March 2018
The site provides details of the background to the recording, of the forthcoming reading by Jeremy Irons at Southwark Cathedral on 9th April (see our own Events page for details), and a short extract of Jeremy Irons reading the opening of The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock. The website is here.
The recording is reviewed in:
The Times: “Irons’s mature voicing has…a measured thoughtfulness that is perfectly matched to Eliot’s preoccupation with age, time and death.”
UPDATE: In an audio interview for The American Scholar, Voicing A Legend, Jeremy Irons talks about the background to his recordings, and his way of reading Eliot, and concludes by reading Aunt Helen.
TS Eliot and the Dynamic Imagination, March 2018
“[Eliot’s] work is full of moments of luminous recognitions, moments in which a writer discovers both subject and appropriate image.” A new book by Sarah Kennedy explores TS Eliot and the Dynamic Imagination.
“Her study of Eliot’s poetics seeks out those images most striking in their resonance and recurrence: the ‘sea-change’, the ‘light invisible’ and the ‘dark ghost’. She makes the case for these sustained metaphors as constitutive of the poet’s imagination and art.”
Sarah Kennedy gave the 2016 TS Eliot Lecture on Eliot’s Ghost Women; an audio recording is available to members. She is a Fellow in English at Downing College, Cambridge, and she contributed a chapter on Ash-Wednesday and the Ariel Poems to the New Cambridge Companion to TS Eliot.
Hogarth Press First Edition of The Waste Land to be auctioned, February 2018
Details of the lot are here; the estimated price is £1,500–£2,500. In October 2015, a similar copy sold at a Dreweatts auction for £1,900, although a Hogarth Press First Edition donated to Oxfam, and sold by Bonhams in 2013, achieved £4,500 (£5,625 including premium).
TS Eliot, Emily Hale and California, February 2018
An article in the magazine of Scripps Women’s College, Claremont, California, examines TS Eliot’s only trip to an area he described as “one of America’s ‘two great mistakes'” (the other being New York).
“In late December 1932,” writes Joseph Maddrey, “the famously staid poet boarded a train from Boston to Southern California. Officially, he was a renowned scholar accepting an invitation to give a paid lecture at a liberal arts college. Unofficially, perhaps, he was a spirited romantic chasing a long-lost love.”
“We now know that Eliot made the journey primarily to see his friend, Emily Hale, the new drama teacher at Scripps.”
The Waste Land and mental illness, February 2018
“TS Eliot’s The Waste Land remains one of the finest reflections on mental illness ever written,” says the headline on an article in The Guardian.
Jonathan McAloon writes that “The crisis at the heart of The Waste Land wasn’t only global, it was also personal.” However, observers have pointed out that his wording within the article itself is that “Eliot’s poem is still one of the finest illustrations of general and personal inner turmoil there is.”
TS Eliot among the artists, February 2018
“Tell me who Kandinsky is“, an article in Apollo, the international arts magazine, explores TS Eliot’s interest in the art of his time.
“There is a certain irony in Eliot’s techniques for composing poetry being compared to parallel developments in the visual arts,” writes Dr Matthew Sperling, “not only because Eliot’s knowledge of European modernism was somewhat second-hand, but also because his verse of this period is intensely agonised about visual experience…”
TS Eliot International Summer School – 2018 programme announced, February 2018
Its programme has now been announced; it includes an address by Irish novelist, playwright, poet and critic Colm Tόibín, and lectures by Seamus Perry, Frances Dickey, John Haffenden, Lyndall Gordon, Mark Ford and Dame Hermione Lee, amongst other Eliot authorities and scholars.
Margate and TS Eliot, January 2018
Granta has published an extract from David Seabrook’s book, All The Devils Are Here, in which he explores both contemporary Margate, and TS Eliot’s period in the town; it will be of particular interest to anyone visiting the Eliot-related exhibitions in Margate this Spring (see Events for details).
The extract is here.
TS Eliot’s The Hollow Men inspires electronic music project, January 2018
Houndstooth – the label arm of London’s Fabric club –is releasing a 25-track compilation of experimental electronics inspired by TS Eliot’s 1925 poem The Hollow Men that will roll out track by track over the next few weeks.
Titled In Death’s Dream Kingdom, the 25-track project features artists working in the darker fringes of experimental and techno music. They were given a brief to take the phrase “in Death’s dream kingdom”, or the whole of the poem from which it comes, as inspiration.
More information about the background to the project and its microsite are here.