Rare TS Eliot books & manuscripts


Library/Archive Collections (UK)

These are online catalogues of the contents of physical collections held in UK libraries and archives:

The TS Eliot Collection at the University of Kent – one of the most significant collections of First Editions, signed copies and rare books, many from the ownership of academic Bonamy Dobrée. (Members of the TS Eliot Society UK have access to this collection upon request.)

The Hayward Bequest of TS Eliot Material comprises the typescripts, manuscripts, letters, and photographs given by Eliot to his friend, John Davy Hayward. They include drafts and proofs for some of T.S. Eliot’s most famous works,  the texts of several broadcasts and lectures, books from T.S. Eliot’s library (many of them annotated), and over 350 photographs.

Balliol College Archives & Manuscripts contain material mainly donated to the College by Rev Father Pierre de Menasce, a translator of Eliot’s poetry.

The Valerie Eliot Bequest of books from Eliot’s own library is at Magdalene College, Cambridge; it comprises 368 books, with over 200 translations of Eliot’s works, and books by other authors owned by Eliot himself.

The Geoffrey Hill Archive at the University of Leeds contains material collected by Hill relating to TS Eliot, and his lecture notes and drafts for teaching on Eliot at the University; it also contains a number of press clippings about TS Eliot from 1963 to 1974.

The British Library has put online a number of images, letters, manuscripts, and articles by and about Eliot.


TS Eliot First Editions & Publications

The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock – First public printing, Poetry magazine Vol. VI, No. III, June 1915 (image) – and the corrected typescript of the poem as submitted.

Prufrock and Other Observations (1917) – First Edition, cover, title page etc, in the British Library Collection

Poems – First Edition, Hogarth Press, 1919; fewer than 250 hand-printed copies (image)

Poems 1919 – First Edition, Hogarth Press (image) [In September 2014 a copy was sold at auction in San Francisco for $9000]

The Egoist magazine, September 1919 – first publication of the essay, Tradition and the Individual Talent

Ara Vos Prec (1920) – famously misspelt by Eliot on the title page although corrected on the spine;  published in edition of only 264 copies detailed in its colophon; contents; design.

The second issue of Blast, the Wyndham Lewis magazine, in which two of TS Eliot’s poems appeared.

The Waste Land – First Printing – the cover of The Criterion, October 1922, featuring the first publication of the poem, and its opening pages.

The Waste Land – first US publication – cover of The Dial, November 1922

The Waste Land– First Editions, UK (1923) and US (1922) (image)

The first, Hogarth Press edition of The Waste Land, handprinted in just 400 copies, as auctioned by Bonhams – plus an article about that edition from Brandeis University, who possess a copy.

The Boni & Liveright US First Edition of The Waste Land – showing the promotional description of the poem on the cover’s inner flaps

In a fascinating short video, modern literature specialist Adam Blakeney presents a first edition of  The Waste Land.

Chapbook, 1924, to which Eliot contributed Doris’s Dream Songs, which later became two of the Minor Poems, and part of The Hollow Men.

Poems 1909-1925 – First Edition

After Strange Gods, the first and only edition of this collection of essays suppressed by Eliot after publication; this copy inscribed by Eliot on Shrove Tuesday, 1934 to Bonamy Dobrée (Copy in the possession of Eliot College, University of Kent.)

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats – First Edition with cover by Eliot (image)

New English Weekly, March 21st 1940, first publication of East Coker

New English Weekly, October 15th 1942, first publication of Little Gidding

Four Quartets – all four UK First Editions (image)


Book jackets of many early Faber editions can be seen in the Faber archive

TS Eliot First Editions – a convenient guide to copies of particular titles currently for sale from booksellers through the US Abebooks and Ebay sites. (Their .co.uk sites may offer UK customers different copies, and lower shipping charges.)

The latest Modernism catalogue, from Blackwell’s Rare Books, often contains Eliot rarities, along with other authors of the period.  Their Modern First Editions specialist Henry Gott is a member of the Society, and is happy to help with buying or selling rare TS Eliot books. E-mail him on henry.gott@blackwell.co.uk.

Dealer Peter Harrington’s catalogue of TS Eliot First Editions, signed books, letters and other rarities

 NB There are some images of Eliot manuscripts, letters etc in Resources/Miscellany

Books notably inscribed by Eliot

Poems 1909-1925, “which no-one else will quite understand”, inscribed to “my dearest” Vivienne

First Edition of The Waste Land inscribed by Eliot “with enduring gratitude” to Dr Roger Vittoz, who treated the poet in Lausanne.

Ash Wednesday inscribed by Eliot “to Scott Fitzgerald with the author’s homage, 3.ii.33

Ash Wednesday inscribed by Eliot “Pray for us sinners

Prufrock and Other Observations inscribed by Eliot “for Miss Emily Hale…New Haven 26.v.47

For Virginia Woolf from the author – TS Eliot

Ara Vus Prec, title page corrected in Eliot’s hand to Vos, and inscribed by him with the correct quotation. (Copy in the possession of Eliot College, University of Kent.)

For Emily Hale from TS Eliot

Danté by TS Eliot, inscribed to his first father-in-law, Maurice Haigh-Wood

In a First Edition of The Cocktail Party, inscribed for his sister Marian, Eliot unusually signs himself as ‘Tom’

Homage to John Dryden, inscribed by Eliot to his older friend and quasi-mentor with “Homage to George Saintsbury!”

To the critic IA Richards

The Rock inscribed to his sister, Theodora Eliot Smith

After Strange Gods, his suppressed collection of essays, signed by Eliot

The Confidential Clerk, unusually inscribed with Eliot’s full name, to Harvard classmate “Conrad Potter Aiken / off’ly and respf’ly / from / Thomas Stearns Eliot

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, signed by Eliot both as himself, and as Old Possum

See also within Resources/Miscellany for a collection of manuscripts and other items In Eliot’s Own Hand.


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