Performances, conferences, readings and other events relating to TS Eliot.
Please check events before making arrangements. No endorsement or recommendation is implied by inclusion.
Lunar Incantations: An Evening with Jules Laforgue, November 2023
An evening at the Music Room, Great Ormond Street, London, on Friday 8th December at 7:30pm, will explore “the mercurial verse and tragically foreshortened life” of the French poet Jules Laforgue, “principally known to anglophone readers as the dominant influence on the early work of T.S. Eliot, particularly on poems such as ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ and ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’.”
This year has seen the publication of two collections of English versions of the poetry of Jules Laforgue: All Keyboards Are Legitimate, edited by Suzannah V. Evans, includes translations by such as Hannah Sullivan, Vidyan Ravinthiran, Douglas Dunn, Christopher Reid, and by Evans herself; while Lunar Solo is a parallel-text edition of twenty-five poems by Laforgue with facing versions by Mark Ford.
Suzannah Evans, Mark Ford, Alan Jenkins, Neil Rennie, and Hannah Sullivan will read from the English versions of the poetry, explore Laforgue’s verse and life, and discuss his influence on T.S. Eliot and the innovations of Modernism. Admission is free but reservation is required; details and booking are here.
Jeanette Winterson to deliver Abbey Theatre’s TS Eliot Lecture, October 2023
This year’s lecture, Journey of the Magi, is named for T. S. Eliot’s 1927 poem of the same name and will be delivered by the writer Jeanette Winterson, followed by a conversation with Mark O’Connell.
Eliot’s poem “tells the story of the journey of the Wise Men to the Christ Child. Beginnings and endings are hinged in the poem. Nearly 100 years later, many of us are wondering about what is ending – and hoping it is not the world. Many of us are wondering – what comes next?”
The lecture will take place on 17th December at 6pm. Tickets range from £15-£45, and details and booking are here
Ben Okri to perform The Waste Land, September 2023
Accompanied by live dance performed by Charlotte Jarvis, with a musical underscoring, Ben will give a solo, on-book rendition of the poem, at the Rutherford Theatre (Wimbledon High School) on Sunday 15th October at 8pm. Tickets are £20.
“In these times when so much is collapsing around us,” says Okri, “this is just the poetic medicine we need, one that speaks the truths we need to hear.”
Full details and booking are here.
The Waste Land in Winchester, August 2023
Winchester is hosting three performances, three Q&A sessions and a lecture, all relating to The Waste Land.
Performed by Arthur L Wood, directed by Rachel O’Neill, and in association with 2TimeTheatre, The Waste Land will be staged for three nights, 11th, 12th and 13th October, in St Lawrence’s Church, The Square, Winchester.
“The production will be presented very simply, allowing the intimacy and beauty of the 12th Century church to become the backdrop. Cellist Katherine Hodgkinson will add to the emotional resonance with moments from Gabriel Fauré, Kenneth Jones, and others.” Performances are at 7.30pm each evening; tickets are £10; details and booking are here.
Each Winchester performance is to be followed by a Q&A session with guest speakers. On Wednesday 11th the guests will be Dr Julian Stannard, reader in creative writing at Winchester University, joined by Hampshire poet Joan McGavin.
The performance on Thursday 12th will see the director and actor joined by Professor Will May from Southampton University, and Revd. Dr. John Caperon, the editor of Exchanges, our TS Eliot Society UK quarterly newsletter.
Friday 13th October is the last performance and the Q&A will welcome poet, writer, educator and facilitator Matthew West from Artful Scribe as a speaker.
Then, on Saturday 14th October at 4.30pm, at the ARC – Performance Hall, as part of the Winchester Poetry Festival, poet Matthew Hollis, author of The Waste Land: A Biography of a Poem, will give a lecture on the poem, followed by a conversation with the Festival’s artistic director Clare Pollard. Tickets are £12; details and booking are here.
Shoreham talk on The Waste Land, August 2023
“Professor Thurschwell hopes to convince you that it is possible to read The Waste Land without a classical education. She will argue that the poem is really about what the title says it is about – waste – the waste products that Eliot sees engulfing the society of the early twentieth century, and waste in terms of history, including what gets left behind and forgotten.”
“In the course of the lecture Pamela will also touch on the place of footnotes, typists, and bad relationships in one of the twentieth century’s most enduring and frustrating Modernist masterpieces.”
The talk, at the Shoreham Centre, is on October 12th at 7:30pm; tickets are £10, and full details are here.
TS Eliot and Kathleen Raine: Two Contemplative Poets, July 2023
“Amid the chaos of the twentieth century, two poets found their own spiritual paths. T.S. Eliot’s quest led him through the ‘Waste Land’ left by the First World War to the timeless, meditative calm of ‘Four Quartets’. Kathleen Raine found insight and tranquility in contemplating nature: both science and Eastern philosophy enriched her journey. Their poems allow us to share two very modern spiritual quests.”
The day is being run by Grevel Lindop, a poet, critic, biographer and travel writer. He taught courses on Blake for many years at Manchester University, and has also taught Buddhist meditation for more than thirty years.
The event is being held at the Meditatio Centre, part of the World Community for Christian Meditation, at St Marks Church, Myddelton Square in London. Running from 10.30am to 4pm on Saturday 9th September, tickets for the day are £40 (£20 online and concessions) and details and booking are here.
TS Eliot Festival 2023 at Little Gidding – tickets now on sale
Featuring talks and poetry, conversation and debate, and delicious food and wine, the Festival is a celebration of Eliot and of Little Gidding, and a chance to meet other Eliot scholars and enthusiasts. It takes place in the garden of Ferrar House at Little Gidding in rural Cambridgeshire, and is an opportunity to visit the church of Little Gidding which inspired Eliot’s poem.
Distinguished poet Ruth Padel will open this year’s Festival with a reading of ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’. The Festival will also feature the eminent Eliot scholars Seamus Perry and David Trotter, and much-loved poet George Szirtes, winner of the 2004 T S Eliot Prize for Poetry.
The Society has a Festival stall, selling Eliot First Editions and out-of-print publications, along with tote bags, pens, bookmarks and other Eliot items. The new edition of our Journal can be collected by members who have not claimed their copy, and back issues will be on sale, and you can chat to Committee members about Society activities and events.
The Festival ends with a traditional reading of ‘Little Gidding’, which, weather-permitting, will be read on the steps of the church immortalised by Eliot.
In addition to the programme of Eliot-related events, morning coffee, a two-course buffet lunch, and afternoon tea will be served. Doors open at 10:00, the programme begins at 10:30, and the Festival concludes at 4:30.
Further details of the Festival and of the site are available on the website of the Friends of Little Gidding. Tickets for the day, including all meals and refreshments, are £45 (Students £25), and are available here.
Theatre production explores life of Vivien Eliot, June 2023
“The live show explores Vivien’s well-documented struggle with physical and mental ill-health, her marriage to Eliot, and her final years at Northumberland House Private Mental Hospital,” say the producers.
An article on a previous performance in the Hastings Online Times, which provides more details, says that “The script uses a postmodern montage style, drawing on snippets from Vivien’s diaries, letters and short stories, as well as lines from The Waste Land.”
The performance is on Monday 24th July at 7:30pm. Tickets are £13.50 (concessions £8.50) and are available here.
Deal Festival to feature Four Quartets,, June 2023
Lord Gawain Douglas will read the work on Thursday 13th July, at St George’s Church, Deal, with piano interludes played by his wife Niki. The event begins at 5.30pm, and tickets are £10, available here.
The Waste Land in conversation, May 2023
Matthew Hollis, author of The Waste Land: A Biography of a Poem, and Jon Cook, Professor of Literature at the University of East Anglia, will “investigate the life and times of Eliot’s ‘masterpiece’ to explore how the poem was made and what it should mean to us today”.
The event, on Saturday 17th June at 6.30, forms part of the Sea Fever Literary Festival, held at Wells Maltings, Wells-Next-the-Sea, Norfolk. Tickets are £10, and details and booking are here.
TS Eliot and the Language of Liturgy, May 2023
“This lecture explores Eliot’s attachment to the language of liturgy,” she says, “and examines the use he makes of words and rhythms from the Book of Common Prayer in three poems written around the time of his conversion to Anglo-Catholicism. Looking at the intersections of poetry with prayer and blasphemy, this lecture asks what happens when the language of liturgy meets the anxieties of modernist poetics.” Her academic page is here
The lecture will take place in the Ursell Room at Pusey House, Oxford on Wednesday 17th May at 4pm (with tea and coffee served beforehand in the Hood Room 3:15 – 3:45).
UPDATE: This lecture is now to be livestreamed here.
Murder In The Cathedral – RSS production in Twickenham, May 2023
Directed by John Buckingham, the drama is being staged in St Mary’s Church, Church Street, Twickenham TW1 3NJ. There are three performances, on Thursday 1st, Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd June, at 7.45. Tickets are £17, and details and booking are here.
Jeremy Irons and Claire Gilbert to discuss Julian of Norwich, April 2023
The Dean of Norwich is to chair a unique conversation about Julian of Norwich, between the Eliot aficionado Jeremy Irons, and Claire Gilbert, author of I, Julian, a fictional autobiography of the visionary.
Julian is the subject of Claire Gilbert’s academic research, but when she was diagnosed with cancer, Julian became Claire’s spiritual companion through two and half years of treatment. She tells Julian’s story in the first person, in homage to her, published with unexpectedly appropriate timing at the 650th anniversary of Julian’s May 1373 visions.
The conversation between Claire and Jeremy will explore Claire’s ‘vision’ of Julian’s life, and will include readings both from I, Julian and from Eliot’s Four Quartets.
Julian of Norwich: mother, mystic, radical– a conversation between Claire Gilbert and Jeremy Irons, chaired by the Dean of Norwich – will take place in Norwich Cathedral’s Weston Room on Sunday 14 May at 2pm. Tickets cost £8 plus booking fee – full details are here.
Campion Lecture on TS Eliot, Terrible Celibate, April 2023
Dr Jayme Stayer, SJ, Professor of English at Loyola University Chicago and Visiting Fellow of Campion Hall, Oxford will deliver the second Campion Lecture of 2023 on the topic: T. S. Eliot, Terrible Celibate: Suffering and Sexuality in the Letters to Emily Hale.
The lecture will be given at Campion Hall, Oxford on 4th May at 5.30pm; it will also be livestreamed. Both are free of charge.
“Prof Stayer’s talk will draw on the letters to Emily Hale, as well as on his own archival work in the Bodleian and the Eliot Foundation, to illuminate the poet’s evolving ideas about suffering, sexuality, divorce—all of it informed by his conversion to the Church of England and his fierce commitment to Christian principles.”
Further details, and registration for both the event and the livestream, are here.
Lyndall Gordon to deliver The Annual TS Eliot Lecture 2023, April 2023
Based on the letters from Eliot to Emily Hale, her subject will be TS Eliot’s Secrecy: Disguise and the Hidden Drama of Emily Hale.
The Lecture has been brought forward this year, and this will be the first time that Lyndall Gordon has lectured on the Emily Hale letters since they were made publicly available.
Lyndall Gordon’s lifetime of work on TS Eliot, and her earlier biography TS Eliot: An Imperfect Life, have been rightly praised – but her recent book, The Hyacinth Girl, based on the Emily Hale letters, received particular acclaim. “Emily, who features in The Waste Land as the ‘Hyacinth Girl’, was deliberately cast by Eliot as his inspiration, and then as deliberately rejected by him,” wrote Margaret Drabble in The New Statesman. “It is a tale of betrayal on a grand scale, and it is very well told.”
The Lecture will be given on Thursday 27th April, at 5.30pm, in the TS Eliot Theatre at Merton College, Oxford. Merton was the College where Eliot spent his postgraduate year in 1914.
Before the lecture, Society publications, rare Eliot books and other Eliot items will be available from our stand in the lobby. And after the Lecture, Merton College are generously hosting a drinks reception, where you can chat with the speakers, other Society members, and Eliot authorities and enthusiasts.
Admission to the Lecture is free, but places must be reserved, via tseliotlecture.eventbrite.co.uk
The Waste Land – a double bill at The London Library, April 2023
On Friday 28th April, The London Library is hosting The Waste Land; A Double Bill – The Poem & The City. Taking place both in-person at the Library, and online, the event promises “An evening of poetry, performance, dance and music celebrating Eliot’s poem and the city it inhabits.”
The evening will begin in the ‘violet hour’, with a performance of the poem by award-winning poet and novelist Ben Okri, accompanied by contemporary dancer Charlotte Jarvis.
The second half of the evening will then explore The Waste Land as a polyphonic, London poem, via the words and voices of some of the best contemporary poets writing about London today. Jay Bernard, Will Harris, Daljit Nagra, Richard Scott, Hannah Sullivan and compere Sophie Herxheimer will perform their own odes to the city and their favourites by other poets, with music from Polly Paulusma and featuring tarot cards created by Sophie Herxheimer.
The event will take place in person at The London Library, and will be livestreamed. Doors (and the bar) open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start. The livestream will begin on YouTube from 7pm.
Standard in-person tickets are £22 (+ £2.51 fee), with concessions for those under 30, unwaged, and London Library members. Online tickets are £5 (+£1.49 fee) and will be available to watch live or at any time after the event, using the same link.
Full details of the event and a link to booking are here.
The Waste Land in China, an online conversation, April 2023
In addition to his novels, featuring the character Inspector Chen Cao, Qiu Xialong has translated many of Eliot’s poems into Chinese. “Eliot’s one of the most popular western modernist poets in China,” he told the Shanghai Book Review. “It was a surprise to myself that in the mid-eighties some young people actually put a copy of the Chinese translation of Four Quartets on top of their dowry in the delivery tricycle parading through the streets.”
The detective character in his novels “frequently quotes or paraphrases Eliot’s lines, which help to give him an alternative, humane perspective in spite of that suffocating system.”
The focus of the conversation will be Qiu’s experience with Eliot’s poetry, which he first discovered during the Cultural Revolution. “We’ll be asking why Eliot’s poetry remains so popular in China,” say the organisers, “and how this fact can help us understand China today.”
Production of Murder In The Cathedral seeks performers, February 2023
The performances will be staged in St Mary’s Church, Twickenham between Thursday 1st and Saturday 3rd June.
There will be an informal reading on Monday 13th February, while auditions for the parts will be held on Monday 27th February, both at the Mary Wallace Theatre in Twickenham. “We make sure to offer opportunities for everyone,” say the RSS.
The production’s audition notes provide an indication of the approach which the production will take, including diverse casting, and beginning the play in the present day with contemporary characters before shifting to 1170. The audition notes can be downloaded here and details of the show itself are here
Half-day course on Eliot’s Four Quartets, January 2023
The course is hosted by poet and academic Martin Potter PhD, an associate of the University of York, whose academic research is on aesthetics, and the frontier areas between poetry, philosophy and theology.
“TS Eliot’s Four Quartets are mysterious and difficult, like his earlier work, The Waste Land, but, despite similarities, have a different emphasis, with, in particular, a stronger theological engagement,” explains the course outline.
“As the texts are too long for a complete reading during the three hour course, we will analyse extracts from each of the Quartets, but will aim to achieve an overview of the import of the work as a whole.”
The course takes place on the University of York campus from 2pm – 5pm on Saturday 25th February. Places cost £26, and details and registration are here.
Robert Crawford on Eliot and biography, January 2023
The lecture is on 25th January 2023 at 5.15pm, in the TS Eliot Lecture Theatre at Merton College. There will be a drinks reception afterwards. All are welcome.
Eliot items on display in University of Kent exhibition, December 2022
The exhibition features a Hogarth Press first edition of The Waste Land; the portrait of Eliot by Patrick Heron; and the bust of Eliot by Jacob Epstein; as well as unique material and correspondence relating to the commissioning of Murder In The Cathedral for the Canterbury Festival in 1935.
The University of Kent has a close link with Eliot, having named their first College – Eliot College – in 1965, the year that Eliot died. They are displaying some unique items from the Eliot College Archives, alongside notable examples from their incredible Modern First Editions Poetry collection held in the University’s Special Collections and Archives.
Ralph Fiennes to read The Waste Land live, December 2022
Said to be the first time that Fiennes has read the poem in front of a live audience, the performance itself will take place at the The 92nd Street Y, New York, on the same stage that Eliot himself read from the poem at a 92NY appearance in December 1950.
However, the time difference means that the reading, which begins with an introduction by poet Paul Muldoon at 7:30pm in New York, will be streaming in the early hours of Tuesday 6th December in the UK – and the website states that “The livestream will be available during the live reading only and will not be viewable following the event.”
Full details of the event, and tickets for the livestream, are available here.
Digital Eliot – a one-day course, November 2022
A special study day is being run in London on 17th January by the TS Eliot International Summer School. Open to all, and featuring three leading Eliot academics, it will look at Digital Editions: The Case of TS Eliot.
“The past decade has witnessed a publishing renaissance of new primary materials by Eliot,” explain the organisers, “new editions of his poems, letters, and prose that will transform how we understand him and his place in literary history.
“This special study day offers participants the chance to talk with the editors about the aims and features of the newly launched digital platforms for Eliot’s works; to think about Eliot’s changing place in modernism; and to reflect on how modern readers use both print and digital editions together.”
The workshop will be led by Professor Anthony Cuda, Editor of the new online edition of The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot and Director of the TS Eliot International Summer School, with Professor Ron Schuchard, General Editor of The Complete Prose and founder of the Summer School, and Professor Jayme Stayer, Coeditor of The Complete Prose.
The cost of the day, which will run from 10am to 5pm, is £100; concessions are £75 and scholarships are also available. Full details are here.
Professors Mark Ford and Seamus Perry discuss The Waste Land, November 2022
The series of LRB podcasts about 20th century poets by these two professors “has become a slow-burning cult hit”, of which The Times wrote, in a five-star review: ‘Two intelligent people are left alone to talk about the subject they love … revolutionary.’
Tickets are £10 for the live event in the LRB Bookshop, or £5 for the online streaming, and details and booking are here.
Matthew Hollis on TS Eliot’s The Waste Land, November 2022
The event is being hosted online on Thursday 15th December at 4pm GMT by the 92nd Street Y, New York, on their Roundtable platform.
“Presenting a mosaic of historical fragments, diaries, dynamic literary criticism, and illuminating new research, Hollis reveals the cultural and personal trauma that forged The Waste Landthrough the lives of its protagonists—of Ezra Pound, who edited it; of Vivien Eliot, who sustained it; and of T. S. Eliot himself, whose private torment is woven into the seams of the work.
“The session will take place online, with an opportunity to interact with the instructor and be recorded for later viewing by patrons.” Registration costs US$40, and full details are here.
John Haffenden to deliver Annual TS Eliot Lecture 2022, November 2022
John Haffenden is the “indefatigable, exemplary editor” (Evening Standard) of The Letters of TS Eliot, now in its ninth volume. This has given him a unique perspective on Eliot’s life and work. He is Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Sheffield, Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of English Studies, University of London, and a Fellow of the British Academy. In a TLS review of the most recent volume of the Letters, John Haffenden was praised for his “expert hands” and “a manner both companionable and erudite”.
We are delighted that the Lecture is to be delivered for the first time in London – in the Bloomsbury where Eliot worked for most of his life – and we are grateful to the English Department of University College, London for hosting it in the Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre at UCL.
The Lecture will be introduced by Professor Mark Ford, Head of the English Department at UCL, who has himself written and spoken widely on TS Eliot.
Admission is free, but the audience is limited and registration is required, via tseliotlecture.eventbrite.co.uk
Members of the TS Eliot Society are entitled to Reserved Seating for the Lecture; enter your Members Password as a promo code when registering.
TS Eliot and Groucho Marx dine in London, November 2022
“Two men, together, on the edge of heaven. In a strange restaurant, two American giants who revere each other, Groucho Marx and T.S.Eliot, meet for dinner. Both in their own ways great defiant spirits, they create magic and anarchy, revealing secrets and sorrows. The evening is presided over by the Proprietor, who seems to control the workings of the universe. Or does she? In Dinner With Groucho, all is revealed. Or nearly so.”
A b*spoke theatre company production, the play features Greg Hicks as T.S.Eliot, Ian Bartholomew as Groucho Marx and Ingrid Craigie as Proprietor.
Full details and booking are here.
The Waste Land in London Modern Festival, November 2022
Jude Rogers, the broadcaster, journalist and author, who presented the recent BBC Radio 4 programme Hold On Tight: The Women Of The Waste Land, is to feature in London Modern, a new day-long cultural festival to be held on Saturday 10th December in Waltham Forest Town Hall.
London Modern is “a new cultural festival celebrating the capital’s modernist arts and architecture”. Among a number of speakers, including historians, cultural commentators and architects, Rogers “brings her personal guide to The Waste Land and TS Eliot’s London”.
Full details of the festival and ticket booking are here.
Who were the women in TS Eliot’s life?, October 2022
At the Arnolfini, Bristol Ideas is staging “an evening of performance and discussion to uncover the great women who inspired TS Eliot’s The Waste Land”, with Niamh Cusack, Lyndall Gordon and Noreen Masud, on Tuesday 29 November 2022 at 7pm.
The evening begins with Niamh Cusack reading The Waste Land. That will be followed by Lyndall Gordon in conversation with Noreen Masud, “to shine a light on the women in TS Eliot’s life, particularly the ‘hyacinth girl’” Emily Hale.
Tickets range from £5 to £8, and details and booking are here
Dramatic reading of The Waste Land in Cambridge, October 2022
The event will feature readers Lloyd Schwartz, Martha Collins, George Kalogeris, Suzanne Mercury, and David Gullette. Michael Todd Steffen will introduce the event.
Admission is free; full details and registration are here.
Eliot and Groucho meet again on stage, October 2022
“In a strange restaurant two American giants who revere each other, Groucho Marx and TS Eliot, meet for an imaginary dinner, both in their own ways great defiant spirits, creating magic and anarchy, revealing secrets and sorrows, the evening presided over by a Proprietor, who seems to control the workings of the universe. Or does she? In Dinner With Groucho all is revealed, or nearly so…”
Written by Frank McGuinness, the play was premiered in Ireland by the b*spoke theatre company. The cast includes Ian Bartholomew as Groucho Marx, Ingrid Craigie as Proprietor and Greg Hicks as T.S. Eliot.
The play was described by the Irish Times as “Sharp, funny, smart and delicious, delivered with breakneck speed, comic timing and subtlety.” It runs for 70 minutes without an interval, and details and tickets are here
(There will be a Post-Show Talk after the performance on Thu 3 Nov; Panel Chair to be announced.)
Read The Waste Land in celebratory event, October 2022
A reading event to celebrate the centenary of The Waste Land is being held at the Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool.
“Come and join us to take part in a collective reading of The Waste Land or to read your own poem that is inspired by T.S.Eliot’s modernist masterpiece. We also welcome musicians who want to play a piece in celebration or response to the poem.
“The celebration will open with readings of poems inspired by The Waste Land as well as music. We will also share a digital display of photography that responds to its themes and ideas.
“Wendy Smith, electroacoustic composer, will be making a field recording of The Waste Land rehearsal and event for possible future use in composition or new collaborative work.”
The event will take place on Thursday 17th November from 4.30 to 8pm. For details, free audience registration and to book a reading slot, visit here.
The Waste Land at 100, September 2022
Faber Poetry Editor Matthew Hollis, author of the forthcoming book The Waste Land: A Biography of a Poem; Erica Wagner, literary critic and author of the forthcoming book on Mary Trevelyan Mary and Mr Eliot: A Sort of Love Story; and leading British poet Daljit Nagra, will “offer an expert guide to the poem, followed by a performance by a leading actor (to be announced).”
Tickets are from £12, and details of the event are here
Robert Crawford on his biography of TS Eliot, September 2022
This is one of a series of events in the Town Hall over the weekend; tickets are available for the single event (£10, students £1) or as weekend passes (£40, students £5). The Festival programme is here and ticket details here.
Conference on translations of TS Eliot, September 2022
Across five panels, some 20 international academics will consider subjects such as Fresh Insights in TS Eliot’s Frenchness, Translating Poetics and Politics, and TS Eliot Shot and Cartooned. There is also a round-table discussion with translators of The Waste Land, which will be streamed online.
And the keynote speaker is Jayme Stayer, author of the recent book Becoming TS Eliot. Details of his talk, on Translating Gautier and Corbière into Eliot: The Bridge Between “Prufrock” and the Quatrain Poems are here.
Lyndall Gordon on The Hyacinth Girl, September 2022
In the Public Hall, Budleigh Salterton, on Sunday 18th September at 2pm, Lyndall “reveals the private life of this very private man, and his life-long love for an American, Emily Hale – the Hyacinth Girl”.
Full details and booking are here.
The Waste Land event at the British Library, August 2022
The event, presented in association with Faber Members, begins with an exclusive screened reading of the poem by actor Viggo Mortensen, unseen since it was filmed live at the British Library in 2015.
This will be followed by a discussion with the poet Matthew Hollis, whose book The Waste Land: A Biography of a Poemis published in October. He will be joined in conversation by broadcaster and arts writer Jude Rogers, who this Autumn presents a BBC Radio 4 documentary, Hold On Tight: The Women Of The Waste Land.
The event is on Monday 17th October at 7pm. Full price tickets are £11, with concessions available and a discount for Faber Members; online access to the streamed event is £5. Full details and booking are here.
Robert Crawford on TS Eliot and literary biography, August 2022
As part of the Manchester Literature Festival, the 2022 Anthony Burgess Lecture will be given by the acclaimed Eliot biographer Robert Crawford. He will deliver a specially commissioned talk on TS Eliot and literary biography.
“TS Eliot was a formative influence on Anthony Burgess, who returned to Eliot’s writing throughout his creative life. Marking the publication of the second volume of Robert Crawford’s compelling biography of the poet, Eliot After The Waste Land, the lecture will explore TS Eliot’s life and work and its continuing resonance today.”
The Lecture will be given in Manchester on Wednesday 12th October at 6.30pm. Tickets are £8/£6, are now on sale to MLF members, and go on sale to the public at 10am this Friday 26th August. Full details and booking are here.
Faber poets read The Waste Land in St Mary Woolnoth, August 2022
Hannah Sullivan won the TS Eliot Prize for her debut collection, Three Poems, in 2018. Richard Scott was shortlisted that same year; and Daljit Nagra, who presents the weekly Poetry Extra on BBC Radio 4, and has been shortlisted twice for the Prize, is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University, and Chair of the Royal Society of Literature,
St Mary Woolnoth is one of the two City of London churches mentioned by Eliot in the poem. Working for Lloyd’s Bank from 1917 to 1925, Eliot knew the church well, passing it twice a day on his commute and often spending his lunch hour inside.
In addition, those booking will be entitled to a 20% discount on the recently-published colour facsimile edition of The Waste Land manuscripts.
The reading will be on 27th October at 7pm. This is a Faber Members event, open to Faber Members only, but joining Faber Members is free. Tickets are £12 (£10 students) including a glass of wine, and full details and booking are here.
Women of The Waste Land, July 2022
The leading poetry event organisers Poet In The City are staging Women of The Waste Land, an evening of performance and discussion, “delving into new insight from Eliot’s previously hidden love letters, to uncover the compelling women who inspired this landmark poem.
“Women weave a vital thread throughout the poem…and Eliot’s life,” say Poet In The City. “From the drama and tragedy of his marriage to Vivien Eliot who shared in Eliot’s ‘horror’ at post-war civilisation, and his genius. To Virginia Woolf who printed the book herself at Hogarth Press. To his hidden muse – the quiet American drama teacher Emily Hale – now known to be the poem’s Hyacinth Girl. Each left her trace on the great work.”
The evening will feature:
- Renowned Eliot biographer Lyndall Gordon, whose latest book, The Hyacinth Girl, is due out in October – see our News page for book details;
- Author and journalist Erica Wagner, whose book on Mary Trevelyan, Mary and Mr Eliot: A Sort of Love Story, is also published in October;
- Lennie Goodings, Chair of Virago, the international publisher of books by women for all readers;
- Noreen Masud, Lecturer in Twentieth Century Literature at the University of Bristol
- UPDATE: Performance by Niamh Cusack (replacing that by Dame Eileen Atkins, who is no longer able to appear).
The event will be at King’s Place, London on Wednesday 21st September; full details and tickets are here
A limited number of tickets are available to our Members at a special discount – see the Members Area for details.
Online discussion of The Waste Land, July 2022
Cardiff BookTalk is a University book group run by the School of English, Communication and Philosophy. “BookTalkers listen to diverse interdisciplinary research topics which expand on themes in the very best classic and contemporary literature. The talks, given by University academics who are specialists in their field, as well as other expert speakers, will be followed by an open discussion session with the audience”
The discussion will feature Dr Ruth Alison Clemens, Dr Nicoletta Asciuto, and Suzannah V. Evans, and begin at 7pm. Details and free registration are here
Staged performance of The Waste Land, July 2022
Director John Sackville explains that “it struck me that the dream-like, or nightmarish, chorus of voices that inhabit T.S.Eliot’s The Waste Land might work well as a kind of poly-vocal drama.” He hopes that a cast led by David Bamber as Tiresias “will magnify the cultural and historical resonance of this work, refracting the light, and the darkness, that it sheds into the twenty-first century – and beyond.” The full interview with the director is here.
There will be two performances on Sunday 24th July at 5pm and 7.30pm. Tickets are £20 (£15 concessions) and details and booking are here.
TS Eliot – Into The Waste Land, a documentary film, June 2022
A new documentary explores “The hidden history behind a landmark in modernism and one of the most acclaimed 20th century poems”, and “details a correspondence that was to prove inspirational to TS Eliot.”
TS Eliot – Into The Waste Land receives its premiere at Sheffield DocFest, “one of the world’s most influential markets for documentary projects”.
The film’s outline suggests that it draws upon the Emily Hale letters. “Now, on the centenary of the first publication of Eliot’s epic poem The Waste Land, these recently released letters show the important role Hale played in his creative process, as Susanna White’s fascinating documentary details.”
The 79minute documentary is being shown twice during the Festival – a premiere with a Q&A session on Saturday 25th June at 5.45pm; and a second showing on Monday 27th June at 3.30pm. Tickets for either showing are £9.50 (£7.50 concessions), and details and booking are here.
TS Eliot biographer in online conversation, June 2022
In an event which is being streamed online by the How To Academy, Professor Crawford will be talking to Esme Bright, the Senior Event producer at the Academy.
“The last biographer to have interviewed anyone who knew Eliot when The Waste Land was published, Robert Crawford is also the first to have access to the archive of Eliot’s letters to Emily Hale.
“From his time as an exhausted bank employee after the publication of The Waste Land, through the emotional turmoil of the 1920s and 1930s, and his years as a firewatcher in bombed wartime London, Crawford will reveal the public and personal experiences that helped generate some of Eliot’s masterpieces.
“He will explore the poet’s religious conversion, his editorship at Faber and Faber, his separation from Vivien Haigh-Wood and happy second marriage to Valerie Fletcher, and his great work Four Quartets.”
Tickets are £15, or £9.99 to How To Academy subscribers. Details and booking link are here; for details and reviews of the book, visit our News page.
The Waste Land after One Hundred Years, June 2022
A special session of Oxford’s Modern and Contemporary Literature Research Seminar is being held to mark the centenary of The Waste Land, including two seminar panels and a group reading of the poem. Attendance in person or online is free.
The event will celebrate the publication of the essay collection, The Waste Land after One Hundred Years, edited by Professor Steven Matthews of the University of Reading (full details on our News page). It will take place from on Wednesday 8th June from 4pm to 7pm, and will consist of a group reading of The Waste Land followed by two panel discussions of the poem and its afterlives.
Speakers at the event include: Professor Rebecca Beasley (The Queen’s College, Oxford), Dr William Davies (Reading), Professor Hugh Haughton (York), Professor Marjorie Perloff (Stanford), Professor Andrew Michael Roberts (Dundee), and Professor Peter Robinson (Reading).
The event will be taking place in the Old Library at All Souls College as well as online via Zoom. Since there are only a limited number of seats available, please register in advance if you are planning to attend the event. Details and registration are here.
How The Waste Land was made, May 2022
“Using the facsimile edition of the poem,” say the group, “He Do The Police In Different Voices tells the story of a masterpiece assembled by three people: Eliot, Ezra Pound and Vivienne Haigh-Wood. Pound’s excisions and Vivienne’s suggestions represent a major contribution to the poem’s final form, and the show will explore the fascinating process of alteration and refinement, using it to clarify and explain the poem – which will be performed in full.
“But this is also the story of three people – one the maker of the poem, another its editor, the third its guiding spirit – all haunted, to various degrees, by mental illness. Dead Poets Live’s new production tells their story alongside that of The Waste Land – who they were and what happened to them afterwards.”
Originally scheduled for February this year, the event is now being staged in the centenary month of the first publication of The Waste Land, in October 1922. Full details and booking are here.
Update: Lindsay Duncan and Luke Thallon have now been confirmed in the cast.
The Annual TS Eliot Festival 2022 – tickets now sold out, wait-list operating, May 2022
Welcoming a live audience back for the first time in three years, the 2022 Festival promises a particularly exciting line-up of readings, talks and discussions.
The author and literary critic Erica Wagner, currently working on a book about Mary Trevelyan, will talk and conduct a Q&A with the eminent Eliot biographer and scholar Lyndall Gordon, whose book on Eliot’s women, The Hyacinth Girl, will be published later this year.
Mark Ford, Head of the English Department at University College, London, will deliver the Little Gidding lecture, Beginning and Ending: Little Gidding.
And Simon Callow will give the annual reading of Little Gidding at Little Gidding. Weather permitting, this will be from the steps of the church Eliot immortalised in his poem, which will be open to ticketholders on the day to visit and experience for themselves.
The TS Eliot Society (UK) will have its usual stand at the Festival, with a number of rare, vintage and First Edition Eliot books, along with other pamphlets and publications including the Society’s Journal (free to members) and other items for sale.
The Festival is a delightful celebration of Eliot and of Little Gidding, and a chance to meet other Eliot scholars and enthusiasts in this unique location. In addition to the programme of Eliot-related events, morning coffee, a two-course buffet lunch, and afternoon tea will be served. Doors open at 10:00, the programme begins at 10:30, and the Festival concludes at 4:30.
All meals and refreshment are included in the ticket price of £45, and for students £25.
Members of the TS Eliot Society (UK) are entitled to a special discounted ticket price of just £35. On the booking page, select the green Tickets box, then click on the blue option to ‘Enter promo code’. You may then enter your 2021/22 members password and book your tickets at the discounted price.
Eliot biographer in conversation, May 2022
Robert Crawford, author of the acclaimed biography Young Eliot, and its imminent second volume Eliot After ‘The Waste Land’, will be in conversation at a special evening at Topping & Company bookshop in St Andrews, Scotland.
The event will take place on Thursday, 9th June at 8pm at The Bookshop, 7 Greyfriars Gardens, St Andrews. Crawford, a poet in his own right, and Professor of English at the University of St Andrews, “will be joining us to discuss his acclaimed second volume about the revolutionary modernist, visionary poet and troubled man, TS Eliot, drawing on extensive new sources.”
“This should be a brilliant evening to hear a great poet discussing another distinguished poet in TS Eliot,” say the bookshop. “It should be a literary, relaxing, early summer treat.” Admission is £7 for students, £10 early bird advance booking, and £25 to include a copy of the new book. Full details are here.
Alice Oswald lecture to incorporate ‘TS Eliot and others’, May 2022
Professor Oswald was elected to the Chair in June 2019, succeeding Simon Armitage. She will be giving one lecture each term for the four years of her tenure.
This term’s lecture will be given at 5pm on 2nd June in the Gulbenkian Lecture Theatre, St Cross Building, Oxford. Admission is free, but online registration is required. Full details and a link to the booking page are here.
Words and vocal music to mark the centenary of The Waste Land, May 2022
Vocal music, from Byrd and Vaughan Williams to Joanna Marsh and Shruthi Rajasekar, will be performed by the I Fagiolini ensemble, while actress Tamsin Greig as Narrator will give readings from The Waste Land, in an event which promises to “blend the wild and the familiar – the melancholy and the hopeful – with poetry that continues to define our age”
Details of the event and tickets, ranging from £10 to £35, are here
Reading of The Waste Land by Faber poets, April 2022
Three leading poets published by Faber will give a centenary reading of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land at Margate’s literary festival, the Margate Bookie, on Sunday 5th June.
The three poets are Richard Scott, whose debut collection, Soho (2018), was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Costa Poetry Award; David Harsent, whose most recent collection Fire Songs (2014) won the TS Eliot Prize; and Hannah Sullivan, who also won the TS Eliot Prize for her collection, Three Poems (2018).
The reading will be staged at Turner Contemporary, by Margate Sands, where Eliot wrote part of his poem, and is limited to 50 people. Tickets are £6; full details and booking are here.
Performance of The Waste Land jazz soundscape setting, April 2022
First performed in 2015, an earlier listing explained that “This rare performative setting breaks the Poem down across four voices, taking as inspiration the idea of Sibylline Fragments – throwing letters in the air and making sense of them as they fall.
“In an attempt to capture the extraordinary verve and daring of Eliot’s great work, the piece aspires to adhere to its tempo and musicality and, in allowing its power to flow, explores how the Poem hangs together as the declaration of a moment in time, prefiguring so much that artistically arrived after its publication.”
The Waste Land Revisited in Bath, March 2022
“During the lockdowns of 2021” explain the BRLSI, “twenty four experienced West Country writers met fortnightly on Zoom to try to map The Waste Land maze. Many of them created new pieces in response to the workshop sessions.”
Bath poet, workshop and events organiser Sue Boyle selected this centenary year to focus on The Waste Land, “its many interpretations, its spurs to the imagination and significantly for all its food for thought. Her group of dedicated explorers have discovered rich sources of expression and creativity.”
Sue Boyle leads the evening on Monday 11th April at BRLSI 16-18 Queen Square
Bath, with project readers and singers Peter Reason and Miranda Pender. Details of the project are here and details and booking for the evening are here
The recent TS Eliot Prize winner Joelle Taylor will be running an online workshop, a Zoom webinar responding to the themes of the poem, including textual analysis and writing exercises. Attendees will be able to follow along with the writing exercises and discussions, interacting with the facilitator via the chat box.”Participants will consider the relevance of the poem in today’s world, and how we too can find ways to write about chaos, desolation and apocalyptic themes whilst still retaining a sense of hope and wonder.”
The workshop will take place online from 12.30pm to 2pm on Saturday 9th April. Tickets are £7.50; details and booking are here.
And at Bristol Central Library, on Friday 1st April, Jim McCue, co-editor of the annotated The Poems, will give The Waste Land 100 Anniversary Lecture. He will consider why we are still reading Eliot’s poem, how our understanding of it has changed, and what was meant by “editing” it as part of a 2,000-page scholarly edition of the poetry. Tickets are free; details and booking are here.
A celebration of TS Eliot’s Life, Work and Legacy, March 2022
As part of the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival, on Thursday 31st March at 2pm a panel of leading Eliot authorities will explore the life and work of TS Eliot. “They will illuminate some of the key themes in Eliot’s work and delve into his times and influence. There will be readings, debate, and some questions and answers.”
The panel consists of:
- Mark Ford, head of English at UCL, poet and contributor to the LRB and TLS;
- Lyndall Gordon, Eliot biographer and author of a forthcoming book on Eliot’s women;
- Jason Harding, editor of The New Cambridge Companion to TS Eliot and a volume of the Complete Prose; and
- Hannah Sullivan, author of the TS Eliot Foundation’s Account of TS Eliot’s Poetic Development, and winner of the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry 2018
The discussion will be chaired by Claire Armitstead, the Guardian associate editor, culture; there will also be readings by actor Geoffrey Streatfeild. The event, in the Bodleian Divinity School, lasts one hour 15 minutes; tickets are £12.50 (£7 students), and details and booking are here.
Festival of ‘fragments’ to celebrate The Waste Land centenary, March 2022
A unique multicultural, multidisciplinary festival, commissioned by the TS Eliot Foundation, and running over the weekend of 8th to 10th April, will celebrate the centenary of The Waste Land across churches in the City.
More than 30 separate “fragments” of performance, installation, talks and readings –“espresso hits of creativity”, each about 15 minutes long – will take place at 22 churches in the City of London.
“Following the methodology of Eliot’s writing,” their press release explained, “f r a g m e n t s has been devised to combine a plurality of different voices, different spiritual cultures, popular culture as well as high art. Just as Eliot brought a diversity of styles, influences and tastes into his writing so the curators have done the same to reflect the defining elements of The Waste Land.”
Cultural offerings in the intimate church settings “range from Indian Raga to American Ragtime, the Syrian Qunan to Kaustinen folk, Sufi mystical music to negro spirituals, Arabic Hip-Hop to classical opera, fado to flamenco, alongside choral and baroque music, contemporary minimalism and film.”
Audiences book from a choice of “Celebration”s, each one a series of live events within a three-hour timeslot – and then select one of five routes between those events. Ticketholders can either walk that scheduled route between the events and churches concerned, or visit their own choice of ‘fragments’ staged during that three-hour period.
There are also a number of continuous events that audiences can visit in their own time. Three sound, video and film installations, and a DJ experience, extend beyond the three-hour period, to allow audiences to fit these in before or after their live event journey.
The festival is bookended by an Opening Night on 7th April, with a talk by Jeanette Winterson and a performance by Liam Ó’Maonlaí; and a Festival Coda of Marie, Marie, Hold On Tight, the tribute to Marie Lloyd at Wilton’s Music Hall on 11th and 12th April (scroll down to October 2021 for details).
Tickets for access to all of the events within one Celebration are £20, with a booking fee of £3. Full details of the festival, its component events, and booking links are all on the f r a g m e n t s website.
Talk on The Waste Land‘s literary legacies, February 2022
As part of Literary Leicester, the University of Leicester’s annual free-to-all literary festival, Dr Scott Freer will give a talk on Wednesday 23rd March at 1:00, entitled The Waste Land (1922): A ‘Mad’ Poem in a ‘Fallen’ World.
Freer’s talk, marking the centenary of The Waste Land, will look at the literary legacies of TS Eliot’s modernist poem, focusing on novels by three Catholic authors – Evelyn Waugh, Flannery O’Connor, and Muriel Spark – that respond, in similar and different ways, to Eliot’s apocalypticism.
Dr Scott Freer is the editor of The Journal of the TS Eliot Society (UK), author of Modernist Mythopoeia: The Twilight of the Gods (2015), and co-editor of Religion and Myth in T. S. Eliot’s Poetry (2016).
Tickets are free, but advance booking is recommended to avoid disappointment, and can be done here
Lyndall Gordon on Eliot and the Woolfs, February 2022
The eminent Eliot biographer and critic Lyndall Gordon is giving a talk on Eliot’s Tie to the Woolfs: From 1918 to The Waste Land, on Saturday 9th April at Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London.
The talk forms part of 1922: Modernism Voyages Out, the AGM Conference of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain. (The AGM itself is for members of the Virginia Woolf Society only.) The conference celebrates 1922, with other speakers on Woolf’s Jacob’s Room, and on streams of consciousness in Mrs Dalloway and in Ulysses.
The conference runs from 10am to 4pm; tickets are £35 (£28 for members of the Virginia Woolf Sociery). There are details on that society’s website here. Email Lynne Newland, Secretary of the Virginia Woolf Society, for further details and to book: email@example.com
One-day course on The Waste Land hosted by Professor Mark Ford, February 2022
The day will explore “why The Waste Land continues to be regarded as arguably the most important work of poetry of the twentieth century.”
This session is designed for the general reader – those who wish to learn more about this important work – and is open to all Faber Members. (The Faber Members programme is free to join here)
“Mark will give you the tools for critical analysis and appreciation through close reading and discussion, leading you through the poem’s historical, social and political context, autobiographical elements, literary allusions and stylistic innovations. With a mixture of taught sessions and group discussions, participants will be encouraged to explore their responses to the poem as well as their experiences of the work of Eliot more generally.”
This course takes place over a full Saturday, 28th May at Faber’s London offices in Bloomsbury. Tickets are £75, and the maximum number of attendees is 18. Full details of the Day are here
The Waste Land at the Charleston Festival, with Benedict Cumberbatch, February 2022
In 1978, the author and polymath Anthony Burgess set The Waste Land to music. “Its many musical styles and techniques complement the fragmentary and allusive Eliot text,” explain The International Anthony Burgess Foundation. “Quotations from Stravinsky and Wagner in particular, as well as from popular songs of the 1910s and the First World War, are woven into an original and ambitious 35-minute work for six players: flute, oboe, cello, piano, soprano and narrator.”
(A video of a previous performance is here; after an introduction from Burgess’s writings, the work itself commences at approx 9:00)
The Britten Sinfonia will perform Burgess’s score, with the soprano Anna Dennis, and the award-winning actor of both stage and screen Benedict Cumberbatch as narrator of the poem. The performance will be introduced by Lyndall Gordon.
If you are a Friend+, Patron or Benefactor supporter, priority booking for all Charleston Festival events opens Thursday 24 February; tickets go on general sale from Tuesday 1 March. Tickets are £50, but there is a 15% discount for students, disabled visitors, universal credit recipients and green travellers who arrive by public transport, by bike or on foot. There are a limited number of £10 tickets under the Festival’s Under 30 scheme.
Full details of the performance, the Charleston Festival, and a link to booking, are here.
TS Eliot’s Ash Wednesday live at York Minster, February 2022
To mark Ash Wednesday, on 2nd March, actor and director Charles Sharman-Cox will be performing Eliot’s Ash Wednesday live in York Minster’s magnificent Chapter House. The free performances will take place at 1pm and 3pm. No booking is required.
Charles Sharman-Cox is an actor, director and writer for theatre and film. After an early career working in British Repertory Theatre, he set up Television Projects making films and documentaries around the world. More recently he has specialised in drama and arts projects working in collaboration with ‘Starving Artists of Los Angeles’ in the US and ‘The Thames Group of Artists’ in the UK.
Details of the Ash Wednesday services and performances at York Minster are here, and a video preview of Sharman-Cox’s performance is here. A captioned recording of the performance will also be shown continuously throughout the day on a screen in the Chapter House.
Roger Allam to read The Waste Land in concert and dinner evening, February 2022
To mark the centenary of its publication, the Olivier Award-winning actor Roger Allam is to read The Waste Land in a unique concert and dinner evening, Music and the Poetry of TS Eliot, at the Fidelio Café in Clerkenwell, London on Saturday 12th March.
Roger Allam (Endeavour, The Thick of It, Cabin Pressure) will read Marina and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock as well as The Waste Land.
The reading will be interspersed with music by Ravel, Debussy, Dukas, Messiaen, and William Bolcom, played by pianist Angela Hewitt. And the readings will be followed by a three-course dinner; the standard ticket price of £100 per person includes both concert and dinner. (Wines, cocktails and drinks can be ordered on the night.)
Full details of the performance and menu for the dinner are on the Fidelio website.
Dead Poets Live explore How The Waste Land Was Made, December 2021
UPDATE: This event has been postponed – further details are here
Ralph Fiennes’ Four Quartets in the West End, November 2021
There have been some further reviews of the performance of Four Quartets by Ralph Finnes, upon its transfer to the Harold Pinter Theatre in London for a limited West End run:
John Lahr, Air Mail “[Fiennes] exudes what the scholarly, inhibited Eliot sorely lacked, that come-hither thing. Eliot’s arcane idiom is exclusive; by contrast, Fiennes’s performance of the poem wants a mass communication. His goal is to make the audience feel the shape of Eliot’s thought as much as parse its meaning. ‘There is only the dance,’ Eliot says. And in his way, Fiennes’s performance is some kind of dance.
“The shape and rhythm of Eliot’s words play on his body and inspire it. Captivated by his physical discoveries, the audience leans into the language and glimpses inside it. ‘Here is a place of disaffection / Time before and time after,’ Fiennes says, tracing the arc of Time with his hand and the diminuendo of his voice. Sometimes by taking a slow run-up to Eliot’s paradoxes, Fiennes can release the profundity buried in them.”
The Times, Sam Marlowe (£): “Now, as the production arrives in the West End, it doesn’t land quite the same way. Its moments of anguish and glimmering wonderment retain their compulsion. But it no longer feels like essential balm for the soul. It has also lost something of its potent austerity, a few self-indulgent flourishes creeping into Fiennes’s still impressive turn as he rakes his agonised gaze and painstaking enunciation of Eliot’s often arcane language across the stalls or flings it up to the gods.” ★★★☆☆
Evening Standard, Nick Curtis “It’s no surprise that Fiennes, in his brown corduroy jacket and grey slacks, somewhat resembles a teacher, albeit one who’s gone barefoot for some reason. Brow furrowed, eyes rueful, mouth set, he’s determined to impart profound truths, doubtful we’ll understand.” ★★★☆☆
The Telegraph, Claire Allfree (£) “A tour de force by Ralph Fiennes…he seems to almost physically lead us through the door we did not open into the rose garden.” ★★★★☆
Time Out, Dave Calhoun: “It’s mostly deeply serious but there are comic moments too – with him having fun with talk of ‘twittering’ and Eliot’s more earthbound references to taking the tube. This is weighty, powerful stuff, fuelled by Eliot’s deep thought and Fiennes’s committed, courageous performance.” ★★★★☆
London Theatre, Marianka Swain: “Fiennes, who also directs, beautifully honours the spirit of the text, which poses questions rather than forcing answers. He wants us to ponder these existential notions together, and his performance is dedicated to illuminating Eliot’s ideas without stamping an interpretative authority upon them. It’s a selfless act of transposition.” ★★★★☆
New York Times, Matt Wolf: “And at a time when other London stages are filtering great work through a revisionist lens, here is the thing itself, ceaselessly and restlessly alive.”
The Arts Desk, Rachel Halliburton: “Eliot’s influences for the Four Quartets range from Dante to Beethoven, from Bruegel to the Bhagavad Gita and as the evening unfurls we get a full sense of both the intellectual and linguistic richness of what he is trying to do. This is in part because Fiennes plays the music of the language like a virtuoso.” ★★★★★
The Spectator, Lloyd Evans: “Brilliant work. But there’s a health warning. This is not the way to introduce teenagers to Eliot. A newcomer would find it dull to watch a middle-aged English intellectual prowling the stage and articulating a kind of high-table Buddhism. The more saturated you are in the work the more you’ll relish this production. Here’s how to measure the depth of your love. If you call him ‘T.S. Eliot’ you’re an arm’s-length admirer. True keepers of the flame know him as ‘Eliot’.”
For the many more reviews of the performance on its tour, scroll down six items to June 2021
Annual TS Eliot Lecture 2021, November 2021
THIS EVENT IS NOW SOLD OUT
Eliot, a self-declared Anglo-Catholic, classicist and Royalist, had many critical things to say about Liberalism; yet looking at both his poetry and his politics, Professor Perry will consider whether Eliot may have shared more with the liberalism he deplored than might at first appear.
Seamus Perry is Professor of English Literature at Oxford, and a Fellow of Balliol College, He appears regularly in the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement and elsewhere, and is the editor, with Christopher Ricks, of the quarterly journal Essays in Criticism.
The Lecture will be given in the TS Eliot Theatre at Merton College, Oxford, the College where Eliot spent his postgraduate year, and Professor Helen Small, Merton Professor of English, will welcome the audience to the award-winning theatre named after him. Merton is also generously hosting a drinks reception after the Lecture, where you can chat with the speakers, Society members, and Eliot authorities and enthusiasts.
The TS Eliot Society is delighted to be able to stage this event live once again, and will have a stand in the lobby before the Lecture, where you can join the Society, and buy rare and out-of-print books by Eliot. It promises to be both a stimulating and enjoyable evening.
THIS EVENT IS NOW SOLD OUT
Marie Lloyd and TS Eliot paired in Wilton’s event, October 2021
Eliot loved popular song, and music-hall in particular, and wrote after her death that Marie Lloyd was “the greatest music-hall artist of her time”. Marie, Marie, Hold on Tight! will feature many of Marie Lloyd’s greatest songs, along with The Waste Land and other “more surprising” Eliot poems, to explore the relationship between his brand of modernism and her brand of music-hall.
The event is being staged on April 11th and 12th, and details and tickets are available now via Wilton’s.
UPDATE: “Marie Lloyd will be played by actress Jenna Russell, renowned for her Sondheim work & most recently acclaimed in Piaf.”
AND: “Tom Hanson will play Eliot’s character Sweeney. He has appeared in Stephen Merchant’s The Offenders and Kenneth Branagh’s Romeo & Juliet. ”
Bidrohi and The Waste Land paired in celebratory event, September 2021
A touring event will celebrate together the centenary of Bidrohi, the 1921 Bengali poem by Kazi Nazrul Islam commonly translated as The Rebel, alongside the coming centenary of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land.
Directed by poet T M Ahmed Kaysher, this live music, spoken-word and theatrical performance incorporates Eliot’s interview with Professor Shiv K Kumar. “Eliot’s interpretation of Indology,” says Ahmed, “and especially his beautiful interpretation of Gita, will be a part of the production, too.” The event will also include “rare and relevant” speeches by Kai Nazrul Islam
An article on Asian Culture Vulture explains more about the pairing of the two poets, and the content of the performance.
The event takes place under the auspices of Saudha, the Society of Poetry and Indian Music. Its first performance is at Seven Artspace, Leeds on 2nd October, followed by Rich Mix, Shoreditch, London on 14th November. Tickets are now available.
Tour dates yet to be confirmed are at Queen Mary University London (November), Attlee Room of the House of the Commons (December), Birmingham (December), Oxford (January) and Leeds Beckett University (January).
Lord Harries to talk on Love and Faith in TS Eliot, September 2021
Lord Harries, known to many through his Thought for the Day talks on BBC Radio 4, has written and spoken many times about Eliot and his faith, including a 2018 Gresham Lecture on the poet’s conversion.
The talk will be at 4.00pm on Sunday September 26th, at St Mary’s Church, Church Road SW13 9HL. Tickets are £10, or £17.50 with a copy of Richard Harries’ book, Haunted by Christ: Modern Writers and the Struggle for Faith.
Thomas Becket and TS Eliot’s Murder In The Cathedral – a free online event, July 2021
Scenes from Eliot’s drama, performed and filmed by City Lit tutors and drama students, will be shown as part of a panel discussion about Murder in the Cathedral and its context, considering why the theme of this play resonated with Eliot in the 1930s.
The panelists include English Literature tutor at City Lit Phoebe Braithwaite, and TV and film actor Gary Grant, who directed the filmed scenes. The event will be introduced by Dr Naomi Speakman, co-curator of the British Museum’s exhibition Thomas Becket: Murder and the Making of a Saint.
This event is held in collaboration with City Lit, the largest college for adult education in London and Europe, and the Society posted their appeal for participants on our News page in April. It will be broadcast online at 7pm on Thursday 29th July, and details are here.
London West End dates for Four Quartets for Ralph Fiennes, July 2021
His world premiere stage adaptation will transfer to London’s Harold Pinter Theatre for a strictly limited run of 36 performances only from 18 November to 18 December 2021.
Tickets are available now from here.
Some regional dates remain, at the Cambridge Arts Theatre until 10th July; Southampton MAST 12 – 17 July; Malvern Theatre 19 – 24 July; and York Theatre Royal 26 – 31 July 2021. For full details and reviews of the performance, see below.
Collected Reviews – Ralph Fiennes performing Four Quartets, June 2021
Following its Press Night, reviews are now appearing of the touring performance of Four Quartets by Ralph Fiennes. These will be updated below as they are published.
For full details of the show, scroll down five items to the original announcement in March.
The Telegraph (£), Dominic Cavendish: “What does his performative prowess lend Eliot’s poetry that we couldn’t get at home, studying the page? Above all, Fiennes conjures an air of communal exploration…His tone is conversational without being casual, and a world removed from the clipped and erudite articulation that was Eliot’s signature style (hypnotic though it was). The delivery is magnetic: slow enough to allow words to be apprehended, as if Fiennes were thinking aloud, groping after the ineffable.” ★★★★☆
The Times (£), Clive Davis: “TS Eliot’s meditations on the intermingling of past, present and future have even more resonance in this captivating performance by Ralph Fiennes…Lovers of Eliot who cherish the author’s own punctilious recording may have found Fiennes too emphatic at times…but for the most part it was an evening of subtle alchemy…his physicality drew us into the inner music of the poems.” ★★★★☆
Wiltshire Times, John Baker: “…an absolutely mesmerising performance which keeps the audience completely transfixed… Compelling, moving and symphonic, Four Quartets is performed by Fiennes with great sensitivity and flashes of humour on a starkly black set as background, with only two chairs, a table and a WW2 radio broadcast microphone as props.”
What’s On Stage, Kris Hallett: “Astonishing from a literary point of view, [Four Quartets] lack a sense of conflict, the key to all theatre. Fiennes works hard to try to find this within and succeeds to a certain extent, but as the evening wears on, there was a sense of the words and rhythms rolling over its audience, I noticed heads drooping onto chests rather than leaning forward in anticipation. Even at a shade under 80 minutes, it begins to feel a slog.” ★★★☆☆
The Guardian, Arifa Akbar: “Fiennes animates scenes with such multivoiced magnificence that they hold us rapt and the language becomes clear and powerful as he physically enacts the lines.
“At his best, Fiennes is intimate and upfront, approaching the top of the stage until his toes grip its edges and infusing lines with such expression that they seem freshly polished. He brings an overt theatricality to the production and some passages sound close to Shakespearean soliloquy.
“This bold production…has an audacity that should be welcomed as a marker of post-pandemic theatre. Unapologetically complex, it makes no concessions to the viewer but asks us to think, engage, concentrate, and it is well worth the head-scratching.” ★★★★☆
The Stage, Ben Kulvichit: “Fiennes’ performance is in the model of classical English stage acting – plummy, ceremonious and impeccably enunciated in a resonant baritone. He delivers most of the text with a wide-eyed look, as if startled by the words coming out of his mouth. Spittle glints in the light. Crucially, he is barefoot, as though being able to feel the boards as he treads them imbues him with greater theatrical prowess…
“Performance style aside, the production makes little effort to translate a literary work into a sufficiently theatrical grammar. Without some kind of framing or respite, there is no escape from the unadorned recital of complex poetry. For those meeting the poem for the first time, the battle to maintain enough concentration to absorb meaning from the 75 minutes of verse is likely to be a losing one.
“It is piously performed and reverent to its text, but seemingly hasn’t paused to think about the audience. This is the kind of work that leads people to declare theatre a dying art form, fading into irrelevance. They might just have a point.” ★★☆☆☆
The Arts Desk, Veronica Lee: “It’s no disrespect to say that the evening would have worked as a magnificent piece of theatre with just Fiennes’s magnetic voice and Eliot’s compelling words, but a tip-top design team adds to our enjoyment. Bechtler’s panels shift on their axes, as if to offer glimpses into those other realms suggested by Eliot, while Tim Lutkin’s lighting conjures fire and ice, sunrise and winter landscapes (and most strikingly, there’s a complete auditorium blackout for the line “O dark dark dark”) and Christopher Shutt’s clever sound design is evocative but unobtrusive. A compelling evening.” ★★★★☆
Stage Talk, Mike Whitton: “Ralph Fiennes’ performance is a tour de force, not least as a prodigious feat of memory. This recital has obviously been meticulously thought through, yet his delivery of the lines appears utterly spontaneous, creating the illusion that the words and ideas are being freshly minted there and then. Drawing upon a formidable range of physical and vocal skills to bring these challenging poems to dramatic life, he has created an unforgettable 70 minutes of theatre.” ★★★★★
Bath Echo, Petra Schofield: “Ralph Fiennes is without question a huge talent and instantly stamps his mark on the work; as Director he has played to his strengths. His physicality and fluid movement break the recital-like feel whilst his use of pause, space and stillness fills the space with power.”
Daily Mail, Patrick Marmion: “They [Four Quartets] are difficult, fragmented works capturing feelings of remorse, humility, hopelessness and acceptance. Simply as a feat of memory, their rendition is a remarkable achievement.
“Over 75 minutes, their complexity makes it difficult for an audience to keep up. But the brilliance of Fiennes’s simple and direct presentation is that he plots his own, personal path through them; and leaves us to catch what we can.
“He’s supported by Hildegard Bechtler’s austere stage design which features a table and two chairs beneath two huge, tomb-like slabs of stone. Below these, barefoot, Fiennes gives a performance of intensity that is also, at times, unexpectedly moving.” ★★★★☆
Financial Times, Sarah Hemming: “It’s a tour de force of performance…But it’s still a big ask for an art form that thrives on plot, character, conflict and action. And it’s a demanding listen. These are works that purposefully loop and circle as they reflect on time, and that bristle with abstractions and philosophical concepts. That density of thought and cerebral intensity are hard to sustain on stage: images pile up and Fiennes, despite his mesmerising virtuosity, can’t quite overcome the lack of momentum.
“Not great drama, as such, then. But this is an evening that reaches for something else. Eliot wrote three of the poems during the second world war: a reckoning with mortality weaves through them, as does the search for grace and a condition beyond temporal pain. It’s in the solace of sharing this contemplation at a time of national crisis and loss that the nub of this profoundly intimate, beautifully performed production lies. Fiennes might be up there alone, but the audience presence is key.” ★★★★☆
i news, Rosemary Waugh: “Ralph Fiennes’ performance…relies on the most basic of theatrical formulas: one actor, alone on a stage, reciting words. And out of this simplicity comes some real magic. Fiennes – who also directs – breathes animation into Eliot’s cyclical meditation on time, love and death.
“His intention is to make these four lengthy poems as comprehensible as possible for the listening audience. In a few, brief sections this leads to him appearing a bit too much like an overenthusiastic English teacher trying to get the Year 11s to like poetry, but for the much larger part it results in making Eliot’s words sound as though they were written yesterday.” ★★★★☆
Mail on Sunday, Event magazine, Robert Gore-Langton” “The last person to record these poems for the BBC was Jeremy Irons, who droned on like a depressed undertaker. Now, hooray, Ralph Fiennes really lets rip live on stage, in bare feet, not overacting but theatrical enough to make you feel the terrific undertow of these late poems by T.S. Eliot.” ★★★★☆
Sunday Times (£), Quentin Letts: “How could any production team, even one including set design by Hildegard Bechtler and creative input from James Dacre, make this navel-gazing properly theatrical? Once or twice I was seized by immense yawns. There are few props — two plain chairs, a simple table, a glass of water and a couple of Stonehenge-size panels that occasionally rotate. A luvvyish touch: Ralph is barefoot. That always makes me shudder. He is dressed and shorn like a 1940s countryman. Occasional sound effects include waves and the tick of a clock.
“If you can forgive the writing’s knottiness, it just about works. Fiennes’s fleshly form brings a foreboding to it all…At the end, when Fiennes dropped his head and fell silent, no one was sure he had finished. Which, oddly enough, may have been the point Eliot was trying to make all along.” ★★★★☆
The Observer, Clare Brennan: “The project is entirely Fiennes’s: he is director as well as performer. On the one hand, this gives the piece a tremendous focus and coherence of purpose. Fiennes the actor is entirely invested in the expression of the work, every gesture, every intonation perfectly at the service of the director’s interpretation. On the other hand, Fiennes the actor is constrained by Fiennes the director, whose reading of the poem seems to me to shy away from fully accepting the deep joy that lies at its core. The emphasis, in the production, is on expressions of anxiety – closer to Eliot the erudite editor at Faber than to Eliot the mystic, steeped in Dante’s Divine Comedy and the Indian epic, the Mahābhārata.” ★★★★☆
The Economist, Boyd Tonkin, The arts after tha pandemic (£): ‘It is an apt starting-point for theatre’s post-covid journey. Four Quartets wrestles not only with Eliot’s personal crises of faith and identity but the public emergency of the second world war; he composed three of the four pieces between 1939 and 1942. Mr Fiennes has known the poem since childhood but revisited it in lockdown, finding that it chimed with the disrupted times, in which “all the normal infrastructure and expectancies are taken away”. Colleagues who helped put the show on the road “volunteered how contemporary it felt—the sense of reckoning with oneself and with life and soul”.’
The Critic, Alexander Larman: “There is a tantalising ambiguity as to who he is – are we watching Fiennes as “himself”, Eliot, an Everyman figure or someone else entirely?
“At the end of the absorbing 75 minutes, it is still not entirely clear whether Fiennes is performing in character or not. Nor does it much matter. He handles the technical challenges of reciting thousands of lines of verse superbly, at times speaking as conversationally and informally as if he was addressing an old friend in prose, and at others deliberately adjusting his voice to take on more dramatic and theatrical registers.”
25th May to 5th June: Theatre Royal, Bath
8th June to 12th June: Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton
14th to 26th June: Oxford Playhouse
28th June to 10th July: Cambridge Arts Theatre,
12th to 17th July: Mayflower Studios, Southampton
19th to 24th July: Malvern Theatres
26th to 31st July: York Theatre Royal
John Quinn, TS Eliot and The Waste Land, June 2021
John Quinn was born in Tiffin, Ohio, in 1870, and grew to international fame as a lawyer and collector of literature and art. He provided legal advice and services to many modernist authors including Joyce, Pound and Yeats, and the manuscript of The Waste Land was discovered amongst his papers, having been gifted to him in gratitude by Eliot.
As part of The Tiffin-Seneca Public Library’s John Quinn Lecture Series, Dr. Garry Leonard, Professor of Literature and Film at the University of Toronto, will be the guest speaker on TS Eliot and The Waste Land on Wednesday, June 23 at 6:30 pm Eastern Time (US and Canada) via Zoom. For further information click to enlarge the flyer above left, and for registration and further details click here.
Online TS Eliot academic mini-conference, May 2021
An online mini-conference, which UK participants can join, has been organised as part of the Annual Conference of the American Literature Association. The American Literature Association is “a coalition of societies devoted to the study of American authors”.
It will be held via Zoom on June 4, 2021, from 1:00 to 3:15 p.m. Eastern time, with live presentations and Q&A to be recorded for the ALA conference in July. Access is free.
Its two sessions are as follows:
Session I: 1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Translations and Relations: The 21st-Century Waste Land
- William Best, U of Calgary: “The Digital Waste Land: 2020”
- Susan Edmunds, Syracuse U: “Eliot at the Border: Reimagining The Waste Land as a ‘Translation Space'”
- Marjorie Perloff, Stanford U: “To Translate or Not to Translate: Foreign Language Citations in The Waste Land“
Session II: 2:15-3:15 p.m. Eastern Time
Tradition and the Individual Life: Eliot’s Sources
- Kate E. Jorgensen, U of New Hampshire: “‘The Darkness of God:’ Eliot and the Miltonic Allusions of East Coker III”
- Janine Utell, Widener U: “Delivering the Impossible: Voice, Affect, and Intimacy in the Eliot/Emily Hale Letters”
- Frances Dickey, U of Missouri: “His Heart on His Sleeve: Eliot, Emily Hale, and the Personal Work of Art”
The Zoom link for access to the event is: https://uncg.zoom.us/j/98558902184
Eliot & Wagner – an online talk, April 2021
Dr Jamie McGregor, a Lecturer in Literary Studies in English at Rhodes University in Makhanda, South Africa, will focus on The Waste Land, and its direct quotations from both Tristan und Isolde and the Ring Cycle, “as well as an indirect (but arguably still more pertinent) reference to Parsifal”.
“The discussion aims to throw some light on why Eliot chose to allude to these Wagnerian works, what effects are achieved by their inclusion in the poem, and how their presence contributes to its overall purpose,” the Wagner Society explains. “The approach will be conversational rather than strictly academic, and no specialist knowledge of Eliot’s work is required.”
Further details and tickets are here. Tickets are £10 for non-Wagner Society members, free for students and under-30s.
Emily Hale letters – an online discussion, April 2021
The Princeton University Library, home to the Emily Hale letters, which they kept sealed until January 2020, is hosting an online discussion entitled TS Eliot & Emily Hale Letters: Re-examined
“Join us to hear a panel of scholars and experts discuss what has been revealed from one of the best-known sealed literary archives in the world,” say Princeton Library.
Participants include Frances Dickey, Associate Professor of English, University of Missouri, who has written several essays on the letters since researching them and blogging their content from the day of their opening; and Sara Fitzgerald, author of The Poet’s Girl: A novel of TS Eliot and Emily Hale and a contributor to last year’s Journal of the TS Eliot Society (UK).
The event takes place on Sunday 18th April; NB the time in Princeton, NJ is 5 hours behind British Summer Time. Registration is free but places are limited.
UPDATE: A recording of this event has now been made available – see the News page for details.
Ralph Fiennes to perform Four Quartets live, March 2021
Visiting a series of regional theatres, Fiennes will perform the work to socially distanced audiences, against an austere, simple set. The show has dates from May to July, and will hopefully extend into August.
In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today (begins at 2:19:50) Fiennes talks about the project, and begins by reading from the opening of East Coker V. (He “takes a conversational approach” to the work, says Dominic Cavendish, writing about the project in The Telegraph)
“This is a poem I have known since I was quite young,” Fiennes explains. “I remember my parents had an LP of Eliot reading it himself. And then I’ve been familiar with it over the years, and have recorded it, in fact, a few years ago. And it’s a poem that’s increasingly had value for me, I think, as one gets older. It’s probably a poem that speaks to middle age and further.”
Fiennes sees the work as “a spiritual examination of who we are and what we are”. It is, he says,“a reflection or inquiry into time and faith. It’s an acceptance of death. It’s asking the big questions about who we are and where we are headed.”
Fiennes had learnt the work during lockdown, and then wondered if it might be possible to put on a production of it. The Eliot Estate granted the rights, and the regional theatres in Bath and Northampton got behind the idea. Dates have followed in Oxford and Cambridge, and Fiennes has said that “We are still working on other venues after that to go through into August”.
And with venues subject to government regulations at the time, “we will flip from socially distanced audiences to, I hope, the possibility of a full house”.
The tour will begin at the Theatre Royal, Bath from 25th May to 5th June. UPDATE: Sold Out.
From 8th June to 12th June, the tour will be at the Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton. Tickets go on general sale on 29th March (Earlier for the theatre’s Members)
From 14th to 26th June, the tour will be at the Oxford Playhouse. UPDATE: Tickets go on general sale on 30th March (Earlier for Playhouse Members)
From 28th June to 10th July, the tour will be at the Cambridge Arts Theatre, UPDATE: Tickets now on general sale.
UPDATE: From 12th to 17th July the tour will be at Mayflower Studios, Southampton. Tickets go on general sale on 22nd April (Earlier for the theatre’s members)
UPDATE: From 19th to 24th July the tour will be at Malvern Theatres. Tickets on general sale now.
UPDATE: From 26th to 31st July, the tour will be at the York Theatre Royal. Priority booking open now; tickets on general sale 19th April.
Further venues and ticket details will be updated on the Events page as we hear of them.
For earlier events see