News archive 2016

The Waste Land listed in 100 Best Nonfiction Books, December 2016

In his ongoing series in The Guardian, Robert McCrum has listed The Waste Land in The 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time.

“The Waste Land has attracted many labels,” he writes, “from the quintessential work of ‘modernism’ to the ‘poetical equivalent to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring‘. It was also one of those very rare works that both embody and articulate the spirit of the age. As such, it would be adored, vilified, parodied, disparaged, obsessed over, canonised and endlessly recited.”


Routledge reissue 10 Library Editions: TS Eliot, December 2016

This set reissues 10 books on TS Eliot originally published between 1952 and 1991. The volumes examine many of Eliot’s most respected works, and include Grover Smith’s well-known work on The Waste Land, and Word Unheard: A Guide Through Eliot’s Four Quartets by Harry Blamires.

As well as exploring Eliot’s work, this collection also provides a comprehensive analysis of the man behind the poetry, particularly in Frederick Tomlin’s T.S. Eliot: A Friendship. They are available as a complete set, or as individual volumes, with cheaper e-books also available. Details on the Library Editions books are here.


Annual TS Eliot Lecture 2016: ‘Eliot’s Ghost Women’ by Dr Sarah Kennedy, November 2016

Dr Sarah Kennedy is to give this year’s Annual TS Eliot Lecture in Cambridge on Monday 28th November at 7pm. Her subject is ‘Eliot’s Ghost Women’.

Dr Kennedy is Fellow in English at Downing College, Cambridge and, among her writings on TS Eliot, recently contributed the chapter Let these words answer: Ash-Wednesday and the Ariel Poems to The New Cambridge Companion to T. S. Eliot.

The Lecture, presented by the TS Eliot Society (UK), is hosted this year by Newnham College, Cambridge, recipients of the Valerie Eliot Fund for English, and will be given in:

Lucia Windsor Room, Newnham College, Cambridge CB3 9DF

The Lecture is open to the public, and admission is free.

Members of the TS Eliot Society can register for reserved seating at the Lecture, and a private drinks reception on the evening; see the Members Area for details.


Searching for Valerie Eliot, November 2016

“Unfortunately for Valerie, anecdotes are assumed to be true, as are responses to interview questions. Perhaps not the entire truth, but not outright lies or distortions.”

Karen Christensen, who is currently writing a biography of Valerie Eliot, has described in Berkshire Notes her difficulties in corroborating the many anecdotes about Valerie and her life with TS Eliot.


TS Eliot “kind of a jerk”, says former TS Eliot Prize winner, November 2016

Anne Carson, winner of the TS Eliot Prize in 2001, has declared that TS Eliot “is kind of a jerk”.

In an interview with cbc Radio, in her native Canada, Anne Carson was asked “Is TS Eliot correct, then, when he says that poetry is largely punctuation?” (11.00 mins)

“Well,” she replies, “y’know, TS Eliot is kind of a jerk.”

She goes on to admit, however, that “I suppose if you took away the punctuation there wouldn’t be the same meaning left.”


The Politics of [TS Eliot’s] Private Life, November 2016

“Eliot has long been of interest to conservatives.” In the US conservative publication National Review, Kevin D Williamson is inspired by The Poems of TS Eliot to explore the relationship between domestic peace, personal happiness and art, in The Politics of Private Life. “Eliot’s Tall Girl may have been uncomplicated in comparison to his brilliant, vivacious, and utterly mad first wife,” he writes, “but she was a better foundation for happiness than a Nobel prize.”


A Lovesong, a short film inspired by Prufrock, October 2016

Taking TS Eliot’s The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock as its starting point, A Lovesong, a short film by Australian filmmakers The Passion, will launch on 1st December.

“Across an evening, in the company of a solitary man pondering the ‘decision and revisions’ of his life which a minute will reverse, we enter the maelstrom to explore  ‘the half-deserted streets’, ‘sawdust restaurants’ and ‘one-night cheap hotels’ of New York and of Eliot’s imagination.”


What to make of TS Eliot?, October 2016

Garrick Davis, poet and founding editor of the Contemporary Poetry Review, asks ‘What to make of TS Eliot?’ in the Fall 2016 issue of Humanities, the Magazine of the National Endowment of the Humanities. His interesting essay, drawing upon both past revelations and the recent critical edition of The Poems,  challenges readers to examine “the human anguish still buried under the exegesis”.


St Mary Woolnoth designated ‘at risk’, October 2016

One of the City of London churches mentioned by TS Eliot in The Waste Land, the Grade 1 listed St Mary Woolnoth, has been designated ‘at risk’ by Historic England.

Its Heritage at Risk entry says that “There is settlement in the tower causing cracks which need to be monitored. Elsewhere asphalt roofing needs to be repaired, along with the nave parapet to Lombard Street.”

The full Historic England list entry for the church provides a fascinating outline of its history.



Faber and Eliot Estate launch website, October 2016

A new website dedicated to TS Eliot has been launched by his publishers, Faber, together with the poet’s estate. contains many previously unseen images and unpublished letters. There are essays, much of his criticism available to read in full, material from the Criterion and quotes from Eliot on his preoccupations. amongst much other material.

The new website is featured in an article in The Guardian. The Eliot estate and Faber believe the site “sets a new standard for the public digital presence of a literary figure”.


TS Eliot Festival 2017, October 2016

The Twelfth Annual TS Eliot Festival has been scheduled for Sunday 9th July 2017.

Make a note in your diaries; the one-day event will take place in the grounds of Little Gidding, and the line-up will be announced in due course.


TS Eliot, Agent of his own demise, October 2016

In an intriguing short essay, followed by some intelligent comments, Morgan Meis argues that in Tradition and the Individual Talent Eliot, following an Aristotelian line, “crafted a set of arguments that led necessarily to cultural irrelevance and are, moreover, unchristian”.

“In the end, therefore,” Meis concludes, “[Eliot] used the tools of Modernism to shut the door on Modernity, and therefore to shut the door on life as it was actually lived in his time.” The essay is here.


Two rare TS Eliot recordings to be broadcast, September 2016

BBC Radio 3 is to broadcast two rare recordings of TS Eliot, reading The Journey of the Magi in 1946, and an extract from Four Quartets.

The programme is part of a 50-part series celebrating 70 years of Radio 3’s recording of poets and poetry since it was launched as the Third Programme in September 1946

The broadcast is on Tuesday 4th October at 21.55 on BBC Radio 3; you can listen to the programme after broadcast here.

(Update: Following the broadcast, sources insist that the recording of Journey of the Magi is actually the 1947 recording, made at the Poetry Room, Harvard College Library, and subsequently released on Harvard Vocarium Records P-1202-3)


“The culture of the age and the experience of the man”, September 2016

“Editing is about facts and tact, about presenting things clearly while solving innumerable small editorial problems.” In an article, Taking the Poet at his Word, Editor Jim McCue provides a fascinating overview of the purpose behind the critical edition of The Poems – illustrated by this extraordinary envelope addressed in rhyme by TS Eliot.


2016/17 Membership of TS Eliot Society now open, September 2016

Applications are now being accepted for Membership of the TS Eliot Society (UK). Membership runs from September to September each year, and so joining now ensures a full year of benefits.

These include discounts and special access for events organised by the Society, such as the Annual TS Eliot Lecture, and the TS Eliot Festival, as well as Member-only offers which have included other event and book discounts. Members receive a free copy of our academic Journal, as well as a quarterly newsletter on Eliot-related matters, and can receive monthly e-mail updates on news, publications, events and other material via the website. And the Members Only area of our website is used to request information and develop projects among Eliot enthusiasts, academics and scholars.

Full details of Membership are available via our dedicated Membership page.


TS Eliot, Edgar Lee Masters and Glorious France, September 2016

In a fascinating essay, Jim McCue explores (Section I) influences and borrowings in Eliot’s work from the poet Edgar Lee Masters; (Section II) Eliot’s response to the emotions and poetry of WWI; and (Section III) throws interesting light upon the infamous “axle-tree” passage in Burnt Norton. The essay can be read and downloaded here


Little Gidding and ‘the sack that never happened’, August 2016

In a lengthy research article, the independent scholar Trevor Cooper explores “The sack that never happened: Little Gidding, puritan soldiers, and the making of a myth“.

Cooper argues that “In his poem Little Gidding, T. S. Eliot used this shutting down of the Ferrars’ religious life to contrast worldly failure with the permanence of spiritual values, and the violent closure of Little Gidding and the destruction of the house is generally seen as emblematic of the religious disputes of the 1640s. But, as this paper shows, the sack never happened, and many of the supporting elements of the story are also imaginary.”


Professor Mark Ford reviews the “all-comprehending” critical edition, August 2016

First mentioned during his delivery of the Annual TS Eliot Lecture in November 2015, Professor Mark Ford’s review of the Critical Edition of The Poems of TS Eliot appears in the new issue of the London Review of Books.

“Anyone with an interest in Eliot will be grateful for, and marvel at, the truly extraordinary knowledge of all things Eliotic that underpins these volumes,” writes Professor Ford, of University College, London, ” but – to get my quibble out of the way early, so that I can praise the numerous virtues of this edition with a clear conscience – it is not always easy to discern the value of the links the editors posit between Eliot’s words and the analogous phrases, drawn from a bewildering array of writers, presented for comparison in the commentary.”

This long, erudite and fascinating review, titled “I Gotta Use Words”, can be read as a free sample of the LRB  here.


Remembering TS Eliot, August 2016

“How could he use such awful words?” In a short article in the London Review of Books,, Mary-Kay Wilmers recalls working with TS Eliot at Faber in March 1961.


Jeremy Irons recording entire TS Eliot canon, July 2016

Following his acclaimed recordings of The Waste Land, Four Quartets, Prufrock and the Practical Cats,  Jeremy Irons is in the process of recording the remaining TS Eliot poems for BBC Radio 4, in order to complete his readings of the poet’s entire canon.

This was revealed at the TS Eliot Festival 2016 by Jeremy Howe, Commissioning Editor for Drama and Fiction for BBC Radio 4. Howe has been responsible for commissioning Irons’s readings to date, and was discussing the recordings and their qualities before the Festival audience.

Howe also revealed that he is considering a way in which all of the recordings might then be broadcast in chronological sequence, in a major single broadcast event which would reflect Eliot’s development throughout his poetic career.


Faber publisher Matthew Evans dies, July 2016

Matthew Evans, the former Faber & Faber boss, who became Lord Evans of Temple Guiting, has died aged 74. One of the most important figures in British publishing, Evans was instrumental in persuading Valerie Eliot to agree to the adaptation of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats as the musical Cats. This provided Faber “with a valuable income stream that kept it in business – protecting it at a time when other independent publishers were being taken over or going bust.” Read more in The Guardian.


An etymological map of Prufrock, July 2016

Elisabeth Cook, a “book, film and language buff” based in the US, has produced an “etymological map” of the first stanza of The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock. The object is to provoke thought by illustrating the etymological origins of the words used by TS Eliot.

The result is posted on her “literary adventure blog” Lit All Over.


TS Eliot Festival 2016 moves to single-day event, June 2016

The 2016 TS Eliot Festival will now be a one-day event, on Sunday 10thJuly 2016, at Little Gidding.

Unfortunately, it has not been possible to stage the activities planned for the preceding day, Saturday 9th. However, key speakers have been rescheduled for Sunday 10th, which now has an updated and enhanced line-up.

“We’re very sorry that it’s not been possible to stage a two-day event as originally planned,” said the organisers, “but we can promise a fascinating and even fuller day on Sunday 10th, and look forward to welcoming Eliot enthusiasts then.”

The organisers apologise to those who have bought either Saturday or Weekend tickets, and purchasers are being contacted regarding refunds. Those holding Weekend tickets will be able to pick-up the appropriate refund on the Sunday, while anyone not attending will receive a refund by post. Any queries should be directed to the Box Office on 01832 274734

Full details of the Festival and all arrangements are on our dedicated page here.


TS Eliot and the defence of Christian civilisation, June 2016

An article in the Catholic World Report declares that “the decadence [TS Eliot] predicted would overtake the West if it chose to abandon its Christian culture has duly arrived.”

Drawing upon the first four volumes of The Complete Prose of TS Eliot, Edward Short sets out “to show how Eliot anatomizes this decadence by returning again and again not only to the question of what constitutes Christian civilization but of how best to understand, protect, and revitalize it.” The article is here.


Religion and Myth in TS Eliot’s poetry, June 2016

A new volume of essays “presents a rich and powerful range of essays by leading and emerging T.S. Eliot and literary modernist scholars, considering the doctrinal, religious, humanist, mythic and secular aspects of Eliot’s poetry.”

Religion and Myth in TS Eliot’s Poetry (Cambridge Scholars Publishing) “pays particular attention to the multivalent spiritual dimensions of his popular poems”. The volume is edited by Scott Freer (who now edits the Journal of the TS Eliot Society) and will be published on 1st August.


TS Eliot’s appearance in Blast available online, June 2016

Monoskop, “a wiki for collaborative studies of art, media and the humanities”, has put online an extensive archive of avant-garde and modernist magazines from 1890-1939. This includes the second issue of Blast, the Wyndham Lewis magazine, in which two of TS Eliot’s poems appeared.

Their original appearance is of interest for unusual punctuation, and also for the variation in the title, Rhapsody of (sic) A Windy Night – presumably a misprint, but a variation not recorded in the recent critical edition of The Poems.



Poetry Book Society, founded by TS Eliot, to close June 2016

The Poetry Book Society (PBS), founded in 1953 by TS Eliot and friends, is winding down after more than 50 years supporting and encouraging the art of poetry and the sale of poetry books. Management of the T S Eliot Prize, previously handled by PBS, has been assumed by the T S Eliot Foundation.

The PBS offered selections of the best new poetry collections of the quarter, chosen by the poet selectors. This side of its activities is being taken over by Inpress, a not-for-profit organisation that provides marketing and distribution services for independent publishers.

More details are here.


British Library puts TS Eliot collection online, May 2016

A representative of the British Library talked on the Today programme  (BBC Radio 4, 25th May, 08.55) about their twentieth-century collection, including their TS Eliot material, placed online today.

Their TS Eliot material is here – it includes First Editions, original letters, manuscripts and published articles both by and about Eliot.


TS & Valerie Eliot correspondence acquired, May 2016

Washington University Libraries have announced their acquisition of the letters of T.S. Eliot and Valerie (Fletcher) Eliot to their mutual friends, Collin and Lillian Brooks.

TS Eliot’s 1944-1959 letters to his friends Collin and Lillian Brooks exude uncharacteristic displays of feeling in the glow of his newfound romance–a relationship that Collin helped initiate, by telling Valerie of the secretarial opening at Faber.

The example here makes reference to the couple’s eventual marriage, which took place at 6.15 am to avoid publicity.

More details and examples of the letters are here.


Christopher Ricks on his annotated edition of The Poems of TS Eliot, May 2016

“At eighty-two and two-thirds, I know that I’ll undertake no Eliot enterprise on anything like the scale of the edition (though I do have in mind a more compact TSEry)”

The Arts Fuse, Boston’s online arts magazine, has published an interview with Christopher Ricks in which he talks about his personal feelings, ambitions and approaches regarding his annotated edition of The Poems – the article is here, with the interview itself beginning some way down the page.


Movie to be made of Cats, May 2016

In news distantly related to TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, a film is to be made of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Cats. It is to be directed and produced by Tom Hooper, who was responsible for the 2012 movie adaptation of Les Miserables, as well as The King’s Speech and The Danish Girl. The project was announced in Variety. “Well, the Theatre’s certainly not what it was,” said Gus the Theatre Cat.


TS Eliot rarities for sale, April 2016

Among several interesting items, including signed translations, First Editions and a vinyl recording, the new Modernism catalogue from Blackwell’s Rare Books includes this menu, for a meal to celebrate TS Eliot’s 75th birthday. There are many items from other authors of the period, and a full catalogue can be downloaded here.


Recording of Vivienne song cycle to be released, April 2016

The operatic song-cycle Vivienne, based on the life of TS Eliot’s first wife, Vivienne Haigh-Wood, is being released on CD by Champs Hill Records on April 29th.

With music by Stephen McNeff, and lyrics by Andy Rashleigh (filled with oblique Eliot references), Vivienne is performed by Clare McCaldin, and accompanied by Libby Burgess. The pair have performed this haunting work in fully-staged and concert versions, including at the 2014 TS Eliot Festival, to great acclaim.

Full details of the recording (which also includes works by Purcell, Brahms and others) are here.


TS Eliot translated and published in Persian, April 2016

A collection of poems by TS Eliot, including The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land and Four Quartets, has been translated into Persian and published in Tehran.

According to Iran’s Book News Agency, the translation was by Behrouz Shadlou, and the 180-page book is published by Boutimar Publications in Tehran.


Secret Cinema project The Waste Land to promote their latest venture, March 2016

In order to promote their summer event, an interactive version of the film 28 Days Later, immersive cinema company Secret Cinema projected the opening lines of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land on to Balfron Tower, Ernö Goldfinger’s Grade II-listed tower block in Poplar, East London. The Tower features in Danny Boyle’s film.


An Annotated Eliot in the TLS, March 2016

In the lead review of the Times Literary Supplement 9th March 2016 (available to subscribers and purchasers only) Adam Kirsch reviews The Poems of TS Eliot, which the Editor describes as “one of the great achievements in the literary scholarship of our time”. Kirsch sees the editors’ notes and commentaries as “so comprehensive and authoritative that one can’t imagine their being superseded”. He also applauds their demonstration that, for all the exposure of the parts, it is Eliot’s “elusive magic which makes the whole machine go”.


The Letters of T. S. Eliot Volume 6: 1932-1933, February 2016

Publication has been announced of Volume 6 of The Letters of TS Eliot. Published on 18th February, the volume contains previously unpublished correspondence relating to Vivienne Eliot’s mental illness, both with friends and with Vivienne herself. According to The Guardian, their publication “challenges the view that [Eliot] was cold towards his wife Vivien [sic] as she suffered mental illness.”

Links to reviews are being updated as they appear:

David Sexton in the Evening Standard: “This volume…includes electrifying letters, including quite a few, startlingly deranged, from Vivienne herself.”

James Attlee in The Independent: “It’s all here, from the business-like to the searingly personal.

Craig Raine in The Spectator: “a more rounded, more human, more convincing Eliot emerges from these letters

Lesley McDowell, The Herald, Scotland : “There is a huge sense of self-preservation throughout this volume”


Young Eliot published in paperback, February 2016

The acclaimed literary biography of TS Eliot’s early years, Young Eliot: From St Louis to The Waste Land, by Robert Crawford, has now been published in paperback (Vintage, £11.99)

Reviews can be seen by scrolling down this page to its hardback publication date of January 2015


Little Gidding appoints new Dean, February 2016

Little Gidding, a site of one of TS Eliot’s most profound experiences and the inspiration behind his poem of the same name, has appointed a new Dean, Christina Rees CBE. Details of her appointment and her vision for the church’s future are here.


For sale: First Edition of The Waste Land inscribed to TS Eliot’s therapist, February 2016

One of the rare Hogarth Press First Editions of The Waste Land has gone on sale – with the added interest of a dedication from TS Eliot to Dr Roger Vittoz, who ran the private Lausanne clinic where Eliot was treated in 1921. The dedication offers Eliot’s “enduring gratitude”. Read about this unique item in The Guardian. The catalogue price, incidentally, is £95,000.


What Makes Great Detective Fiction, According to TS Eliot, February 2016

The third volume of Eliot’s Complete Prose contains a number of reviews of detective novels which Eliot published, with no byline, in his literary journal The Criterion, in 1927. In an essay in the New Yorker, Paul Grimstad writes that “to Eliot, who in The Waste Land wrote of the fractured modern world as a “heap of broken images,” it seems possible that Golden Age detective stories offered above all a pleasing orderliness—a way of seeing ghastly disruptions restored to equilibrium with the soothing predictability of ritual.” Read more here.


A Different Eliot, New York Review of Books, January 2016

In the New York Review of Books, February 11th issue, Edward Mendelson, Professor of English at Columbia University, writes an essay upon both the Robert Crawford biography, Young Eliot, and The Poems, edited by Ricks and McCue. He considers that the books “make it possible to see more deeply than before into Eliot’s inner life, to perceive its order and complexity in new ways…”

And he writes that “At the heart of his thought and feeling was an unspoken conviction that he, like the society in which he lived, had failed to become what he ought to be, something cohesive and whole, that with all his authority and fame, he lacked a unified personal self.” The article is here.


Christopher Ricks on Prufrock, January 2016

Broadcast on BBC Radio 5 Live on 26th January, Christopher Ricks was interviewed at length in Boston by Rhod Sharp about Eliot’s The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock. Between sections of the poem, this eclectic 50-minute late-night conversation ranges across Eliot’s position on Machiavelli, actors, the brothel world and plagiarism; explores Prufrock’s age and courage; and discusses Eliot’s use of brackets and ellipses, and the endings of his poems. The broadcast is here; the Eliot section begins 02.09.10 into the programme and with a break for news at 02.32.16 runs until 03.00.00.


Thought for the Day on TS Eliot’s Journey, January 2016

Elizabeth Oldfield, Director of the Theos think tank, provided a BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day on 7th January on Eliot’s Journey of the Magi and its significance. Listen here.


Obama as critic of TS Eliot, January 2016

In the New York Review of Books, Edward Mendelson revisits President Obama’s student letter about TS Eliot, and concludes that “it exemplified literary criticism – like Frank Kermode’s – at its best”.


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