TS Eliot’s Faber office, December 2017
The TS Eliot Foundation has published on Twitter a photograph of TS Eliot’s office at Faber & Faber, 24 Russell Square, London. It was one of a series taken on the day of his death. See the Tweet then click to enlarge here.
Complete TS Eliot read by Jeremy Irons due for Spring release, December 2017
These are the readings as heard on BBC Radio 4 over Christmas 2016/17. Six programmes gather together the verse: Prufrock and Other Observations; Poems (1920); The Waste Land; The Hollow Men, Ash Wednesday and Ariel Poems; Four Quartets; and Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.
The release will coincide with the 75th anniversary of Four Quartets being published in the US as a single volume. Jeremy Irons will be reading all Four Quartets at a special event in New York, which will also see the presentation of the first Four Quartets Prize, presented by the TS Eliot Foundation in partnership with the Poetry Society of America for a unified sequence of poems or verse narrative.
Special TS Eliot issue of Agenda, December 2017
Published this month, Vol 51 Nos 3-4 (£12) will contain 14 essays from contributors including Jim McCue and Lyndall Gordon.
There will also be poems from John Burnside and others.
Full details of Agenda, which was founded in 1959 by Ezra Pound and William Cookson, are here.
Unique First Edition Re-Covered of The Waste Land to be sold, November 2017
A sale at Sotheby’s to benefit the House of Illustration will include a 1940 Faber & Faber First Edition of The Waste Land, signed by TS Eliot, and re-covered in a new dustjacket by modern illustrator Dave McKean. Details of the auction lot are here.
Sotheby’s is to auction a collection of 33 unique collectible first editions with beautiful new, one-off dust-jackets. These have been designed, and generously donated, by leading artists and designers, to benefit the House of Illustration, the world’s only public gallery solely dedicated to illustration and graphic arts, a registered charity with no public funding. The auction will be held on Monday 11th December, with the books on display from Friday 8th December.
Robert Mugabe said to admire the poetry of TS Eliot, November 2017
Robert Mugabe “studied, and admired above all, the poetry of TS Eliot.”
In an article in The Times, James MacManus recalls interviewing Mugabe in December 1974, shortly after his release from detention. Mugable told him that, while detained, “he had studied English on a correspondence course and yes he had studied, and admired above all, the poetry of TS Eliot.
“I was leaving with my scoop when Mugabe called me back. He asked me quietly if I would not mention poetry or Eliot in my article. I could see why. A nationalist leader bent on a liberation war did not want to be seen to be a lover of English poetry. I foolishly agreed.”
In The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw suggested that Eliot could have remained an influence. “Maybe Mugabe saw himself as like Thomas Becket in Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral, sitting tight in his presidential palace, waiting for martyrdom. Perhaps in Dubai he will ponder the lines from The Cocktail Party: ‘What is hell? Hell is oneself./Hell is alone, the other figures in it/Merely projections. There is nothing to escape from/And nothing to escape to. One is always alone.’ Well, Mugabe has the satisfaction of knowing his presidency ended with a bang.”
TS Eliot’s Collected Poems inspire Supreme Court judge, November 2017
Lady Black of Derwent has told The Times of the inspiration she has drawn from the poetry of TS Eliot.
Lady Black is is the second woman to be appointed to the UK Supreme Court, and a founding author of the definitive guide to family law in England and Wales, The Family Court Practice.
Asked which book inspires her, she replied: “TS Eliot’s Collected Poems. Whichever of life’s riddles I am trying to solve, I find something there to help.”
Novel inspired by TS Eliot shortlisted for Goldsmith’s Prize, November 2017
The modernist novel by Kevin Davey, Playing Possum, which was inspired by TS Eliot, and whose publication we covered (below) in July 2017, has been shortlisted for the Goldsmith’s Prize. The Prize exists “to reward fiction that breaks the mould or extends the possibilities of the novel form.”
The novel was enthusiastically reviewed in the New Statesman.
TS Eliot’s Complete Prose: The War Years, 1940-1946, October 2017
The sixth volume of The Complete Prose of TS Eliot has been published online, covering The War Years, 1940-1946. It can be accessed here.
Edited by David Chinitz and Ron Schuchard, this volume, it says in the introduction, “offers a richly varied collection representing his response to the extraordinary pressures of total war. Much of the work included here was composed under circumstances or for purposes dictated by the war. And just as it underlies East Coker, The Dry Salvages, and Little Gidding in important ways even when they are not talking directly about it, the war remains the grim background for Eliot’s prose of this period…”
TS Eliot’s ‘young man carbuncular’, October 2017
In an essay in Notes & Queries, Nicoletta Asciuto explores an ambiguity in the description of The Waste Land‘s ‘young man carbuncular’.
“The primary meaning of ‘carbuncle’, and the one most of us would be familiar with, is that of an infected sore,” she writes, “but the term also carries a more archaic meaning to refer to a particular kind of gemstone…Why would Eliot have intended to bestow such a particular feature of brilliancy upon this rather dull individual?”
Hillary Clinton and TS Eliot, September 2017
In her new memoir, What Happened, Hillary Clinton writes of the inspiration she drew at three key times from TS Eliot’s poetry and, in particular, East Coker.
Clinton recalls first reading East Coker as a teenager growing up in Illinois. As the young ancestor of “indomitable Welsh and English coal miners” the poem spoke to her. She quotes her 1969 commencement speech at Wellesley, where she paraphrased the poem; “There is only the trying,” Mrs. Clinton said then, “again and again and again; to win again what we’ve lost before.”
Later, when she describes her decision to run for president a second time, Eliot’s poem is the one that comes to mind. – and it also provided solace after her loss.
Eliot in the Wartime Classroom, September 2017
On Tuesday 16 May 2017, Ron Schuchard gave the University of London International Programmes’ inaugural 1858 Charter Lecture, ‘Eliot in the Wartime Classroom, 1916–1919’, at an event supported by the TS Eliot Society (UK).
His fascinating lecture about Eliot’s work as an Extension Lecturer is now reproduced in full on tseliot.com, to coincide with the University of London’s publication of the lecture.
Novel traces the relationship between TS Eliot and Emily Hale, September 2017
“1965. The great poet, TS Eliot, is dead. Hearing the news, the seventy-two year old Emily Hale points her Ford Roadster towards the port of Gloucester, where a fishing boat will take her out to sea, near the low, treacherous rocks called the Dry Salvages, just off Cape Ann, Massachusetts. Over the course of that day, clutching a satchel of letters, Emily Hale slips between past and present, reliving her life with Eliot – starting with that night in 1913, the moment when her life turned, when the young Tom Eliot and Emily Hale fell deeply in love with each other. But Tom moved to London to fulfil his destiny as the famous poet ‘TS Eliot’, and Emily went on to become his muse – the silent figure behind some of the greatest poetry of the 20th century – his friend and his confidante. But never did she become his lover or his wife.”
Faber & Faber Christmas cards signed by TS Eliot, September 2017
Christmas cards, signed and sent by TS Eliot, with an intriguing provenance, have been put on sale by Blackwell’s Rare Books.
The recipient, though not named, was Meg (Margaret) Nason of the Bindery Tea Room in Broadway, Gloucestershire – a friend and correspondent of the poet from the late 1930s until his death, and an integral part of his relationship with Emily Hale.
The cards were illustrated by the artists John Piper, and Barnett Freedman (a similar card is pictured above). Also for sale is a First Edition of The Cocktail Party, inscribed by Eliot to Meg Nason. Full details are here.
TS Eliot in Gloucester, Mass., August 2017
An article in the Boston Globe explores Eliot’s relationship with Gloucester, Massachusetts and the Cape Ann coast, “the only place he was truly, straightforwardly happy,” according to Valerie Eliot. The article also reveals more about Eliot House, the former family home (at which Eliot is pictured left) which the TS Eliot Foundation now runs as a writers’ retreat.
TS Eliot the clubman, August 2017
From his undergraduate membership of Harvard’s Fox Club, to London dining clubs including the Oxford & Cambridge and Grillions, the archives of the TS Eliot Estate explore Eliot the clubman, and display some of his membership cards.
Auction of Eliot books and memorabilia, August 2017
Heritage Auctions are selling a fascinating collection of material, much of it drawn from the last surviving family of TS Eliot. Many of the First Editions are inscribed to Theodora Eliot Smith or Charlotte Stearns Smith, while a copy of Journey of the Magi is inscribed “for Mother from Tom (the first copy published) 16/Aug/1927”
“I had one of those incredible experiences of going through the attic with Eliot’s great-niece Priscilla Talcott Spahn (née Priscilla Stearns Talcott), who is the last living relative to have known and had a personal relationship with T.S. Eliot,” said James Gannon, director of rare books at Heritage Auctions. “We looked through a lot of boxes of art and photographs in the attic, and books, and found one of the photo albums that is offered in this auction, among other things.”
Among the memorabilia are letters and previously unseen photographs – and this extraordinary needlepoint embroidery of a cat, executed and signed by the six-year-old Tom.
Eliot House, and the TS Eliot Foundation, August 2017
In The New Yorker, Louis Menand visits Eliot House, the Eliot family’s summer house in Gloucester, Massachusetts, which has been purchased by the TS Eliot Foundation and turned into a writers’ retreat. Menand describes the house, and examines the activities of the Foundation itself.
Eliot in 1922, ‘the year the literary landscape shifted’, July 2017
A new book by US literary historian Bill Goldstein considers 1922, the year The World Broke In Two, with the publication of The Waste Land, Ulysses, and In Search of Lost Time.
“The ingenious conceit of Goldstein’s book is to follow, using excerpts from both their correspondence and their diaries, the intertwined personal and literary lives of four writers — Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster, and Eliot himself — as the three seismic shocks of those publications ripple through their lives, and their work”.
But “emphasizing the personal, Goldstein neglects the allusive, mythological and abstract dimensions of the works,” says the New York Times. “This shortchanges Forster only a little and Lawrence hardly at all. But it seriously cheats Eliot and Woolf.”
Following UK publication, the book was reviewed by:
John Mullan in The Guardian: “a book that is sustained by its author’s undisguised curiosity about the quirks and susceptibilities of his chosen writers. Working from their letters and diaries, Goldstein does not hesitate to suggest he can know their private feelings”
Rupert Davenport-Hines in The Spectator: “His big literary vision of ‘modernism’ is lost in a muddle of minutiae”
Dedicated First Edition of Homage to John Dryden up for sale, July 2017
Published by the Hogarth Press, the First Edition pamphlet is inscribed on the front endpaper: “Homage to George Saintsbury! from his sincere admirer T. S. Eliot 13.xi.24”
Details of the item, which has an asking price of $67,500, are here.
TS Eliot by Wyndham Lewis, July 2017
The portrait of TS Eliot by Wyndham Lewis (1938) is “a jigsaw puzzle of rebellion and radicalism”, writes Skye Sherwin in an Anatomy of an Artwork in The Guardian.
And towards the foot of our page of Images of TS Eliot, you will find a link to a brief newsreel clip of Wyndham Lewis, reacting to the rejection of the portrait by the Royal Academy.
Playing Possum, a novel inspired by TS Eliot, July 2017
“Fleeing from a violent incident in London in 1922, pursued by police, Tom spends a night in the Duke of Cumberland Hotel in Whitstable. Demobilised soldiers hold a meeting below his window and a silent movie is being shot on the seafront.”
The publishers say that the novel “is an exuberant modernist reminder that T S Eliot was a fan of detective fiction, Charlie Chaplin and the music hall”. More details are here and there is a video trailer for the book here.
Jeremy Irons added to TS Eliot Festival line-up, June 2017
The actor Jeremy Irons, known for his readings of TS Eliot’s poetry on stage and on BBC Radio 4, has been added to the line-up of the TS Eliot Festival 2017.
This will be a unique opportunity to hear Jeremy Irons reading Little Gidding at Little Gidding.
The TS Eliot Festival 2017 is being held at Little Gidding on Sunday July 9th from 11:00 to 18:00. Jeremy Irons is an exciting addition to a line-up that already features celebrated novelist Ali Smith reading The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.
An inspirational day of talks, readings, and discussions, on the occasion of the centenary of TS Eliot’s first published collection, Prufrock and Other Observations, this year’s Festival will also feature lectures by two distinguished academics, Robert Crawford and Marjorie Perloff. In addition to the programme of Eliot-related events, morning coffee, a two-course buffet lunch, and afternoon tea will be served.
Full details and booking are here.
The real Prufrock behind TS Eliot’s poem, June 2017
In St Louis magazine, Ryan L Masters explores the life of Harry Prufrock, whose Prufrock-Litton furniture store may have provided the name for Eliot’s J Alfred Prufrock.
Call for essays, The Journal of the TS Eliot Society (UK), June 2017
For the 2018 edition, the journal hopes to attract scholarly research on the legacy of T.S. Eliot and so will happily accept comparative studies as well as author-based submissions.
Please forward your abstract to Dr Scott Freer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The deadline for complete submission is January 2018 (word length: 6-7,000).
Two TS Eliot items in online auction, June 2017
The postcard was sent to Mrs RW Hale in Cambridge, Mass., and refers to the first night of The Confidential Clerk, which Eliot missed because of this holiday.
The lot also contains a signed First Edition of The Confidential Clerk, signed by Eliot in the London Clinic while recovering from a heart attack that year. Full details are here.
The TS Eliot Studies Annual 2016 published, June 2017
Edited by John Morgenstern, 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 2015 edition of his complete poems, and the forthcoming critical edition of his plays.” Contributors to the first edition include Nancy Hargrove, Christopher Ricks and Ron Schuchard.
Letters of TS Eliot Volume 7: 1934-1935, May 2017
Publication of the Letters of TS Eliot Volume 7: 1934-1935 has been confirmed for 1st June. “The correspondence draws in detail upon Vivien’s letters and diaries,” say the publishers, Faber & Faber, “to provide a picture of her mental state and way of life – and to help the reader to appreciate her thoughts and feelings.”
In a fascinating article, the editor John Haffenden previews the volume. “At long last,” he writes here, “we get the fullest available representation of both sides of the frightful, agonising personal struggle between Eliot and the wife whom he had left in 1933.”
Dalya Alberge in The Guardian: “It expands further on Vivien’s deteriorating mind and her inability to accept that Eliot no longer wanted her.”
David Wheatley in the Literary Review: “The letters have their moments, but the effort of skimming almost a thousand pages for the highlights may deter all but the most devoted of Eliotians.”
Zulfikar Ghose in Dawn: “There are these occasional nuggets with their gleaming insight into the nature of literary creativity which reward the patient reader of Eliot’s correspondence”
Jremy Noel-Tod in the Irish Independent: “contain copious evidence that Eliot himself was now considered the greatest literary critic of his own time, and that he, too, had ‘contracted’ an unhappy marriage”
The Journal of the TS Eliot Society 2017, May 2017
Edited by Dr Scott Freer, it contains essays on Theatrics of Place in Eliot’s Poetry by Tony Sharpe; TS Eliot and British Organicism: Food, Health and Nutrition by Jeremy Diaper; and TS Eliot’s Coriolanus by Matthew Geary. There are also book reviews by John Caperon, Chris Joyce and Scott Freer himself.
The Journal is £7.50; send a cheque payable to TS Eliot Society to the Secretary at 73A Mill Road, Cambridge, CB1 2AW, with a self-addressed envelope, capable of accommodating an A5 journal of 90 pages, and stamped with £1.30 of postage. Copies will also be on sale at the TS Eliot Festival at Little Gidding on 9th 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.
TS Eliot’s Letters to Emily Hale, May 2017
Sealed Treasure, an article from the Princeton University Library, summarises the history of the letters which they hold between TS Eliot and Emily Hale, and explains some of the arrangements for their opening in January 2020, including a mention of the provision for researchers of digital surrogates.
Did TS Eliot “borrow” from James Joyce’s Ulysses?, May 2017
Jeffrey Peters, a columnist, writer, and researcher based in Annapolis, Maryland, examines the accusation that The Waste Land “borrowed” from James Joyce’s Ulysses – and that Joyce “seems to have regarded the two of them as competitors with their pair of central works, and Eliot as guilty of filching some of his thunder, in two respects: appropriating fame that was rightfully his; and plagiarizing freely, with inferior results”. His essay is here.
How TS Eliot’s time as a university lecturer shaped his writing, May 2017
Professor Ron Schuchard is delivering the 1858 Charter Lecture at the University of London, on Eliot in the Wartime Classroom. (See Events for details) Ahead of this, in the Times Higher Education Supplement, Professor Schuchard describes how Eliot’s time as a university lecturer shaped his writing. “In the case of Eliot,” he writes, “whose teaching experience formed such an important part of his intellectual development, we can see that teaching can have transformative effects for those who undertake it, in this instance helping to make Eliot one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.”
TS Eliot’s The Family Reunion broadcast again, May 2017
“TS Eliot’s poetic and compelling tale of sin and redemption examines a family tortured by its past.” You can listen to the broadcast here until 13th June.
Conrad Aiken introduces his original review of The Waste Land, May 2017
A close friend of TS Eliot at the time, Conrad Aiken wrote what was possibly the first positive, full-length review of The Waste Land. Titled An Anatomy of Melancholy, it appeared in The New Republic of February 7, 1923, just four months after the poem’s appearance in The Criterion. Here, Aiken introduces his original review with a reminiscence of Eliot at the time, and how Aiken believes that he broke the poet’s writer’s block.
Denis Donoghue on TS Eliot’s essay, The Function of Criticism, April 2017
The April issue of The New Criterion contains an essay by Professor Denis Donoghue, the Irish literary critic and Chair of English and American Letters at New York University. In The Function of Criticism, he argues, Eliot writes “a work of angry intelligence: it reads as if it were written under duress… Given such a field of literary criticism,
Eliot would like to see most of its wandering inhabitants ejected.”
The essay, which requires a subscription or a one-off fee of $3 to read in full, is here.
TS Eliot’s Collected Poems 1909-1962 corrected and newly reset, March 2017
“Throughout its many printings,” say Faber, “variants, discrepancies, authorial revisions and printers’ errors have introduced anomalies that have served to undermine the authority of the edition. Now, following years of careful scholarship and preparation for The Poems of TS Eliot by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue, a reliable text has been established.”
This “corrected, authoritative and newly reset edition” has a scheduled publication date of 5th October, with a list price of £20.
TS Eliot rarities in Blackwell’s Rare Books’ Modernisms catalogue, March 2017
The latest catalogue of Modernisms from Blackwell’s Rare Books contains a number of fascinating TS Eliot items. They include several First Editions, including a Hogarth Press The Waste Land, and some of the Ariel poems; the intriguing presentation copy of For Lancelot Andrewes (scroll down for details); and unusually, a detective novel whose blurb was written (and initialled) by TS Eliot (see right; click to enlarge).
Download the catalogue (with images) here.
Hong Kong Review of Books reviews critical edition of The Poems, March 2017
Eldrid Herrington, an American writer and academic who lives in London, has written a review of the critical edition of The Poems of TS Eliot edited by Ricks and McCue – “this definitive and magisterial edition… a gift for the ages” – in the Hong Kong Review of Books.
TS Eliot in Paris, February 2017
In a fascinating short video, the actor and writer Simon Callow talks about TS Eliot’s year in Paris, and reads some of the poetry which it inspired. View the video here.
The video is linked to the event, TS Eliot & Decadence, in which Simon Callow will be reading – full details on our Events page.
Eliot the “poor mad poet”, February 2017
An unusual First Edition presentation copy of For Lancelot Andrewes has gone on sale. The book contains a tipped in Faber & Faber headed note, conveying an enigmatic message from the author: ‘For the Henwife from the puir daft makar’ – the copy is believed to have been given to the mother of poet Hope Mirrlees – the full story is provided by Blackwell’s Rare Books.
TS Eliot and Decadence, February 2017
An essay by Graham Henderson, of the Rimbaud & Verlaine Foundation, explores the influence of the French Decadent movement on TS Eliot, who spent the year 1910-11 in Paris. The short essay is here.
The essay coincides with a live event, TS Eliot and Decadence, being held at King’s Place, London on February 21st. Full details are on our Events page.
TS Eliot Summer School 2017 – open for applications, February 2017
Hosted by the the Institute of English Studies of the University of London, the TS Eliot Summer School 2017 is now open for applications here.
Those giving seminars this year include Ronald Schuchard, Robert Crawford, Marjorie Perloff, Kinereth Meyer, Robert von Hallberg and Stephen Romer. Based in Bloomsbury, but incorporating visits to Burnt Norton and Little Gidding, the Summer School runs from 8th to 16th July 2017.
Eliot family copy of Poems First Hogarth Press Edition, January 2017
Its front blank endpaper bears the signature of Abigail A Eliot, TS Eliot’s cousin, which makes it possible this was one of the poet’s 12 presentation copies.
Images of the book, which is on sale for £15,000, are here.
Letters of TS Eliot Vol 7, 1934-1935, scheduled for publication, January 2017
“TS Eliot’s career as a successful stage dramatist gathers pace throughout the fascinating letters of this volume,” reads the description. “Even while absorbed in time-consuming theatre work, Eliot was untiring in promoting the writers on Faber’s ever broadening lists – George Barker, Marianne Moore and Djuna Barnes among them. Having separated from his wife Vivien in 1933, he is anxious to avoid running into her; but she refuses to comprehend that her husband has chosen to leave her and stalks him across literary society, leading to his place of work at the offices of Faber & Faber.”
Edited as before by John Haffenden, the volume’s list price is £50.
UPDATE: The publication date for this volume has been revised to June 1st 2017.
The structure of The Waste Land, January 2017
In a review of The Poems, Adam Piette, Professor of Modern Languages at the University of Sheffield, traces how the structure of The Waste Land evolved, with particular reference to the issues of producing a standalone book of the poem. The essay is on the online forum, Blackbox Manifold.
Christopher Ricks on Prufrock and more, January 2017
First broadcast in January 2016, Christopher Ricks was interviewed by Rhod Sharpe on BBC Radio 5 Live (scroll down for details) about The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock – although the interview ranges far more widely across Eliot’s life and work. The original is no longer available, but a version was rebroadcast on 3rd January 2017, and is available for 28 days after broadcast here. The interview begins at 01.06.35
Jeremy Irons reads TS Eliot on New Year’s Day – full schedule, December 2016
The timings of the five broadcasts are:
13.30 Poems 1920
14.00 The Waste Land
19.15 Four Quartets
Each programme is introduced by Martha Kearney and the works discussed with special guests, including the actress Fiona Shaw, the writer Jeanette Winterson, Rory Stewart MP, and the lawyer Anthony Julius. Details of each programme are available via the links above.
Shortly after the live broadcasts, the readings will be available on the BBC iPlayer via the links above. Further details of the day have already been posted on our Events page; and the event has been entertainingly previewed by Antonia Quirke in the New Statesman.