Recent stories relating to TS Eliot
Exchanges, our Society quarterly, August 2019
The Summer issue of our Society quarterly has now been published, and is being made available to the public for the first time.
There are articles on Ty Glyn Aeron, the house in Wales where Eliot spent summer holidays; and on the new, commemorative edition of Four Quartets. A Sixth Form student writes about an engaging approach to teaching Eliot at A-Level; and there are reports from this year’s Annual TS Eliot Festival at Little Gidding, and on an evening of Eliot and Beethoven.
You can read and download the new issue of Exchanges here.
When Tom met Groucho, August 2019
In the US version of the Spectator, Christopher Sandford recounts again the unexpected relationship between TS Eliot and Groucho Marx. An exchange of letters and photographs led to an awkward meeting between the two men over dinner.
A longer article investigating their “fraught friendship” was published in The New Yorker in 2014. A letter from Groucho to Gummo Marx, describing their dinner, is here. And on our Miscellany page can be found a link to an audio recording of Groucho Marx’s tribute at the Homage to TS Eliot staged after his death.
Hannah Sullivan traces TS Eliot’s poetic development, July 2019
In an essay published by the TS Eliot Foundation, Dr Hannah Sullivan presents an account of TS Eliot’s poetic development, from The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock to Four Quartets.
“More than any other twentieth-century poet,” she writes, “Eliot renders the experience of modernity in all its baffling complexity: the fragments of things we hear, half-hear, remember, or desire, or regret. But the poetry also dramatizes the failure of attempts at understanding this complexity.”
Hannah Sullivan won this year’s TS Eliot Prize for her collection, Three Poems. She is an Associate Professor and Tutorial Fellow at New College, Oxford.
TS Eliot “might have enjoyed the rich strangeness” of trailer for the movie Cats, July 2019
The movie is based upon the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics drawn from TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The Estate has played no direct role in the production of the movie other than “to provide encouragement and enthusiasm”.
The trailer has divided opinion over its human/cat hybrids. But Clare Reihill, who administers the Estate, told The Guardian that “I think Eliot might have enjoyed the rich strangeness of the blurring of the boundary between human and cat in the trailer, which is in keeping with the elusiveness of the world of the poems – or indeed the nocturnal surrealism of something like Rhapsody On A Windy Night.”
TS Eliot and The Criterion magazine, July 2019
Dr Jason Harding of Durham University has published a fascinating essay on tseliot.com about the history of The Criterion.
TS Eliot edited The Criterion magazine for its entire lifespan (1922–1939): the periodical advanced his literary and social career; it was an outlet for his poetry and criticism; and, during the crisis-ridden 1930s, it was a platform for outspoken interventions in the major social and political issues of the day.
The Criterion exerted an influence on contemporary letters out of all proportion to its circulation. Dr Harding’s essay traces its history, its contributors and the literary and social positions which it adopted.
The first issue, dated October 1922, contained the first appearance of The Waste Land, without epigraph or notes. The poem was typeset in proof as two parts, before a last-minute decision saw it appear whole in one issue. Just 600 copies were published, but a rare copy of that Vol 1, No 1, and some of its contents, can currently be seen online at dealers Peter Harrington where it is for sale at £5000.
Professor John Haffenden to edit Emily Hale letters, July 2019
It has been confirmed that, as announced at this year’s TS Eliot Festival, Professor John Haffenden, celebrated for his ongoing editing of the Letters of TS Eliot, has been asked by Faber & Faber to edit TS Eliot’s letters to Emily Hale, when they are unsealed in January 2020.
At this stage, further particulars are to be arranged between the Eliot Estate and Princeton University Library, where the 1,131 letters, dating from 1930 to 1956, are sealed within metal security bands. The letters occupy 12 boxes, catalogued as C0686.
Emily Hale was a Boston-born college teacher, who was the poet’s oldest friend, and for decades his confidant and correspondent. The poem Burnt Norton was inspired by a visit with her, and their relationship has been the subject of much speculation.
In 1956, Hale signed a deed of gift, stipulating that her letters from Eliot be kept “completely closed to all readers until the lapse of fifty years after the death of Mr. Eliot or myself, whichever shall occur later. At that time the files may be made available for study by properly qualified scholars in accordance with the regulations of the Library for the use of manuscript materials. To carry out this intention the Library is to keep the collection in sealed containers in its manuscript vaults.”
Proper arrangement of the letters, possible conservation treatment, and other things must be done immediately prior to the official opening on 2 January 2020.
The Manuscripts Division of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, who hold the letters within the Princeton University Library, previously published this article about the letters.
UPDATE: It has been confirmed that the intention is to publish the Emily Hale letters as a single volume.
How Michael Parkinson walked out of TS Eliot’s Murder In The Cathedral, June 2019
The broadcaster Sir Michael Parkinson has told The Times that the play he once walked out of was TS Eliot’s Murder In The Cathedral.
“My father, mother and I once went to see Murder In The Cathedral at the Playhouse in Oxford,” he revealed in a My culture fix interview. “My father took us there because he thought it was written by Agatha Christie.
“When we got there, there were all these monks chanting and things like that, so we left rather hurriedly.”
The Journal of the TS Eliot Society 2019 edition published, June 2019
Edited by Dr Scott Freer, the 2019 edition contains essays by William Myers and Benedict Jones-Williams; interviews with artists Mat Collishaw and Julian Peters by Scott Freer; and book reviews by Jaron Murphy. Full details of the contents and ordering details are on the dedicated Journal page via the menu above.
Members of the Society are entitled to a free copy of the Journal; further details on the Journal page.
Valerie Eliot on The Waste Land, June 2019
A few days before publication in 1971, Mrs Eliot recorded a four page typed talk with the help of two actors. “Mrs Eliot arrived with one copy of her talk and several copies of the book,” remembered one of those, Hugh Dickson. “Afterwards she gave us our copies, which she autographed and corrected in her own hand two or three misprints.’
Along with Dickson’s book, a copy of the talk itself is also for sale. It is described as “A dispassionate, detailed analysis of the draft of Eliot’s poem, section by section, dealing with Pound’s emendations, Vivien Eliot’s commentary and Eliot’s responses to their interventions in this previously mislaid manuscript. Valerie Eliot is quite definite in her explanation and sometimes with trenchant commentary on some of Pound’s interventions.”
Further details are here, where the View More Images link enlarges a section of the talk dealing with sections IV and V of the poem.
TS Eliot and the British Council, June 2019
A new article on the TS Eliot Foundation website explores the work which Eliot did for the British Council, during and just after the Second World War.
Described as “cultural warfare”, Eliot undertook lectures for the Council in Stockholm, Paris and Rome, with other trips planned but cancelled as the War progressed. While some of the lectures appeared in other forms, some have been published for the first time in The Complete Prose of TS Eliot.
Eliot summed up his experience of touring with the British Council following his trip to Rome: “I feel like Sherlock Holmes, who summarised his history since last seeing Watson by saying ‘I then passed through Persia, looked in at Mecca, and paid a short but interesting visit to the Khalifa at Khartoum, the results of which I have communicated to the Foreign Office’.”
Rare TS Eliot books at Firsts, London’s Rare Book Fair, June 2019
Some fascinating TS Eliot books could be seen at Firsts, London’s Rare Book Fair from June 7th-9th.
Neil Pearson Rare Books (Stand P08) had the copy of TS Eliot’s Poetry and Drama previously owned by the great Eliot academic Nevill Coghill , a First Edition with Coghill’s ownership signature at Exeter College, Oxford on the front free endpaper (£150).
Peter Harrington (Stand J07) had a Hogarth Press First Edition of The Waste Land (£7,500).
And RA Gekokski Booksellers (stand Q01) not only had a copy of Ara Vos Prec, the 1919 Ovid Press collection of Eliot’s poems with its title famously mispelled by Eliot (£1500) – but they also had an “absolutely exceptional” copy of the First Edition, First Issue of The Waste Land, printed in 1922 by Boni & Liveright. This book (left), rarely seen in this condition, was priced at £85,000.
Rory Stewart MP quotes TS Eliot to reflect this moment in British politics, June 2019
The International Development Secretary and Conservative leadership candidate, Rory Stewart MP, has drawn upon TS Eliot’s Little Gidding in order to consider the current political situation in the UK.
“It speaks to me about what we owe to tradition and what we owe to the dead and what we take forward for the living,” he says in an interview for Politico.
Stewart is said to have memorised all of Four Quartets while walking alone in the Himalayas.
“It’s very alive to how much we owe to the past,” he continues. “It doesn’t attempt to cut us off from who we were, nor to cut us off from the neighbours that surround us.”
Signed passport photograph of TS Eliot up for sale, May 2019
An accompanying secretary’s letter, dated May 1956, suggests that the photo was sent to a savings bank in Iowa, perhaps as proof of identity.
The photo, the accompanying letter and its original mailing envelope are on sale on Ebay here, for approximately £1200 including shipping.
Barbican publishes background material for staging of Four Quartets, May 2019
To support this week’s staging of the dance work Four Quartets, the Barbican has published material online about the four poems and their locations, incorporating for a limited period readings of extracts by Ted Hughes and Ralph Fiennes.
Professor Denis Donoghue introduces the poems, and Gideon Lester, Artistic Director of Fisher Center at Bard, visits and describes their locations, with some rich colour photography. (His visits can be accessed individually through their page’s top menu bar.) For a limited period there are recordings of extracts from Burnt Norton and East Coker by the poet Ted Hughes, and from The Dry Salvages and Little Gidding by the actor Ralph Fiennes.
For reviews of the work, see the entry on the Events page, April 2019.
New anniversary edition of TS Eliot’s Four Quartets, May 2019
This new edition is based upon the limited edition, signed by Eliot, which was printed in 1960 by Giovanni Mardersteig on the hand-press of the Officina Bodoni in Verona. The poems are set in the Dante typeface, which Mardersteig created in the 1950s from fifteenth-century designs.
This setting matches Faber’s 2015 edition of The Waste Land (although the cover designs of the two books are of different styles). But unlike that publication, which took its text from Ricks and McCue’s The Poems, the new edition of Four Quartets takes its text from Collected Poems 1909–1962.
After appearing separately between 1936 and 1942, the first UK edition of all Four Quartets in a single volume was published in 1944. The new edition is scheduled for publication this Thursday 16th May.
History of Faber & Faber features TS Eliot as publisher, May 2019
A history of Faber & Faber, by Toby Faber, grandson of its founder Geoffrey Faber, brings together previously unseen letters and documents, and provides some fascinating insights into TS Eliot’s career as a publisher.
Faber & Faber: The Untold Story (Faber) traces the history of the publishing house, from its beginnings as Faber & Gwyer in 1924. The following year, a mutual friend introduced Geoffrey Faber to TS Eliot; the company bought up The Criterion, the influential literary magazine which Eliot edited, and Eliot became a Director of the company, which would also publish his own poetry.
When Geoffrey Faber and Maurice Gwyer parted company in 1929, Eliot’s discerning eye and literary connections were significant in building a list of writers and poets at the subsequent Faber & Faber, from Joyce and Pound to Auden and Larkin. The book contains letters and memos in which Eliot rejects George Orwell, but snaps up Ted Hughes (“I’m inclined to think we ought to take this man now.”), and insights into Eliot as a publisher and as a person appear throughout this broader history of Faber & Faber.
The Observer, Robert McCrum: “Inside this literary Vatican, until his death in 1965, TS Eliot was the supreme pontiff.”– also contains a link to an excerpt from the book
The Spectator, DJ Taylor: “Would Faber & Faber still exist without TS Eliot?”
The Telegraph, Tristram Fane Saunders: “It captures the ups and downs of a company created almost by accident, that would change the course of modern literature.”
The Sunday Times, John Walsh (£): “In a 1978 letter, the Faber chairman Matthew Evans let Andrew Lloyd Webber know that Valerie Eliot “would have no objection” to his setting one of her husband’s cat poems to music, thus handing Faber a lifeline for decades.”
Evening Standard, Claire Harman: “Much of the early shaping of the list was the work of T S Eliot, whose day job as a publisher gets proper attention at last in this amiable history”
Financial Times. Nicholas Clee: “TS Eliot was, despite turning down George Orwell twice, not only the greatest poet of his generation but also a publisher of rare acumen.”
The Scotsman, Roger Cox: “Although Faber was himself a poet of some skill, he evidently struggled to make sense of The Waste Land. “You are obscure you know!” he wrote to Eliot in 1925. “I wonder if you realize how difficult you are? And alternatively I wonder if I am specially stupid.”
The New Yorker, Jonathan Galassi: “There’s a kind of poetic justice in the fact that it’s the work, in more than one sense, of T. S. Eliot that both helped establish the temper of the eccentric entity that is Faber & Faber and has kept it alive for close to a century.”
Members of the Society are invited to a lecture by Toby Faber on ‘A mere ordinary director: TS Eliot as publisher’ – see the Members Area for details.
“What that word ‘Eliot’ now means”, April 2019
In an extensive essay in the London Review of Books, Professor Robert Crawford uses The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Volume VIII: 1936-38 as a starting point.
The essay looks in particular at the many ways in which Eliot signed his letters, to explore how “Eliot, so aware of his own family name and lineage, was a connoisseur of unusual names” – and “rather liked to escape, as well as to investigate, aspects of his own identity”.
Professor Crawford writes that “in scope, detail and quality of annotation this edition is utterly remarkable.” For other reviews of this latest volume of Letters, scroll down to January 2019.
Delta blues with TS Eliot’s ‘vocals’, March 2019
A second musical composition has been created by Mårten Thavenius, in his Ballistic Angels project, combining recordings of TS Eliot’s voice with electric guitar and rhythms influenced by the Delta blues.
“I have worked hard restoring and expanding the recordings of Eliot,” Mårten explains, “before editing selected samples to make them an integrated part of new music compositions. Editing has been made in detail with every emphasis and vowel to make a new rhythm and intonation that is part of the music.” The result is an extraordinary combination of Eliot’s laconic ‘vocals’ over a powerful and driving backing track.
You can listen to The Dead Land here, alongside Mårten’s earlier composition, The Hollow Men.
Recording released of live TS Eliot poetry reading, March 2019
The recording was made on December 4th 1950, at the 92nd Street Y, New York. Eliot begins his performance with a relaxed and conversational opening. “I discovered when I first began reading my own poems,” he says, “that it is necessary to do a little preamble at the beginning, and to make occasional remarks in between reading the poems or groups of poems. But I want to impress upon you that I realise that nothing that I say in this way – and nothing that I’m saying at the moment – is of the slightest importance.”
Eliot talks to the audience at the outset for over 12 minutes about his poetry, about interpretations of his work, and about the recordings he has made of his poems, before beginning the poetry readings with Preludes, “which show their age to best advantage.”
Other readings include La Figlia Che Piange, two sections of The Waste Land and, unexpectedly, “both parts of the unfinished Coriolan”.
“I know I shall disappoint some people,” he says of one omission, “but I am rather embarrassed by Prufrock. Now I feel it’s rather exposing an adolescent personality.”
Each poem is introduced with comments, and throughout the performance he is relaxed, thoughtful and, in several places, elicits laughter from the audience for his humorous remarks.
The entire 46 minute performance can be heard here.
Volume 7 of The Complete Prose of TS Eliot published, March 2019
Edited by Iman Javadi and Ronald Schuchard, Volume 7 is entitled A European Society: 1947 – 1953. “The postwar years of this volume represent one of the richest and most rewarding periods of Eliot’s career,” they write. “Following receipt of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948, he was in constant demand to lecture, broadcast, contribute to periodicals, and receive honorary degrees and recognition.” This period also saw a film version of Murder in the Cathedral and the publication and production of two new plays, The Cocktail Party and The Confidential Clerk,
“These activities produced a great variety of unpublished, uncollected, and unrecorded addresses, speeches, and tributes, together with ten major literary essays.” Access to the new volume, as with the preceding six, is by institutional or individual subscription, via Project Muse.
The Complete Prose of TS Eliot is due for completion later this year. There has been a Call for Papers for a volume of essays to celebrate the completion; scroll down to January 2019 for details.
Fiona Shaw talks of repeat performance of The Waste Land, March 2019
In an interview for The Observer, Fiona Shaw talked about her original performance of The Waste Land in New York – and the possibility of repeating it.
“When I did The Waste Land in 1995,” she recalls, “it was such an experience. The whole of Manhattan society seemed to come and see this tiny performance of a poem in a disused porno theatre on 42nd Street. Limos pulled up and ladies came in with chihuahuas.”
Asked if she could still recite the poem, she replies: “Most of it’s still in there [taps head]. I was 35 then and I’ve thought about doing it again when I’m 65. I’m holding it tight until the right moment.”
A specially filmed performance of the poem by Fiona Shaw is on The Waste Land app.
Screening Prufrock: What the Mermaids Sing, February 2019
In a new essay, Dr Scott Freer, of the University of Leicester, examines two film adaptations of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. “The two films give form to Eliot’s ‘dreamy’ poetics,” he writes, “to offer a more optimistic understanding of what the mermaids’ song means.”
“These films enter a profound inter-textual dialogue with Eliot’s poem, and so constitute sophisticated examples of the enduring trans-media legacy of probably the most popular poem of the twentieth century.” The essay can be accessed via Oxford Academic Adaptation.
Religion and Myth in TS Eliot’s Poetry, February 2019
The volume presents a rich and powerful range of essays by leading and emerging T.S. Eliot and literary modernist scholars, considering the doctrinal, religious, humanist, mythic and secular aspects of Eliots poetry. A full description and direct purchase is available on Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
An Introduction to The TS Eliot Studies Annual, February 2019
General Editor John D Morgenstern has posted an introduction to The TS Eliot Studies Annual, including an overview of the research that has taken place, and the materials published, over the last half a century.
“Scholars have now embarked on the decades-long task of coming to terms with more than a million words previously inaccessible or unattributed to Eliot,” he writes. “The T. S. Eliot Studies Annual provides a venue for this ongoing critical reassessment.” His post can be read here.
Members of the TS Eliot Society (UK) are entitled to a 50% discount on The TS Eliot Studies Annual – see the Members Area for details.
Two leading poets join TS Eliot Summer School line-up, February 2019
The TS Eliot International Summer School, which takes place in London from July 6th-14th, has added two major figures to its 2019 programme. Both are winners of the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry.
The poet, novelist, and critic Sean O’Brien will give the inaugural lecture at this year’s summer school on Saturday, July 6th. In addition to his many collections of poetry, his essays, reviews and broadcasting, he was the Weidenfeld Visiting Professor at St Anne’s College, Oxford for 2016-17. He won both the TS Eliot Prize and the Forward Prize in 2007 for The Drowned Book.
And Hannah Sullivan, winner of the latest TS Eliot Prize for her acclaimed poetry collection, Three Poems, will give a private reading and book signing as part of the 2019 programme. As an Associate Professor of English at New College, Oxford, Hannah Sullivan lectured during last year’s Summer School.
Full details of the 2019 Summer School are here. Members of the TS Eliot Society (UK) are reminded that they can enjoy a 25% discount on Summer School fees – please see the Members Area for details.
Inside Eliot House, Massachusetts, January 2019
An article, with photographs by Paul Cary Goldberg. provides a glimpse inside the former Eliot family summer house on Eastern Point, Gloucester, Massachusetts, now converted by the Eliot Foundation into a literary retreat
The restored property offers somewhere “away from the rush and crush, to spend time in quiet reflection and inspiration, to look out on the same scenes that inspired such a literary giant as Eliot.” The article by Emma Hamilton can be read on The Other Cape.
Chelsea flat shared by TS Eliot and John Hayward on the market, January 2019
Eliot moved into the flat with Hayward in 1946, and lived there for 11 years until his marriage to Valerie in 1957. Hayward dealt with all visitors, answered the phone and allowed Eliot the privacy he craved.
According to Lyndall Gordon, Hayward had the rooms looking over the Chelsea Embankment, while Eliot “chose two small, dark rooms at the back of the flat, looking down into the well of the building… There, under the crucifix, he observed religious rules, some given, some of his own devising… His life was as emblematic as a tale by Hawthorne: the closed door; the dark well; the game of patience.”
The flat is for sale through Strutt & Parker; details, floorplan and pictures of its current interior are here.
The Letters of TS Eliot Volume 8: 1936-1938, January 2019
During these years, “Eliot is called upon to become the completely public man.” giving talks, readings and broadcasts, writing The Family Reunion, and also working as an editor and publisher. Correspondents include John Hayward, Virginia Woolf, and the godchildren to whom he sends many of the poems that become Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.
The volume covers his separation from first wife Vivien, and tells the full story of the decision taken by her brother Maurice Haigh-Wood, following the best available medical advice, to commit her to an asylum. Some of Vivien’s own letters are included, and one to her brother in August 1938 has already been circulated in which Eliot writes, “In reply to your letter of the 5th instant, so far as my authority is concerned and so far as my authorisation is necessary, I give you my authority to apply for certification of your sister, Mrs T. S. Eliot…”
Edited by the “indefatigable, exemplary” John Haffenden (Evening Standard), the volume has 1152 pages and a cover price of £50. Links to reviews, updated as they appear, are below:
Evening Standard, David Sexton: “Revealing, touching and wise…Taken together, these letters are little less than a lesson in conduct, a demonstration of grace under pressure.”
Observer, Tim Adams: “In some ways it is like eavesdropping on the most maddening of confessionals: just as the poet seems about to mine some inner anxiety, he digresses into bland thank you notes and exhaustive letters to the Church Times on the proceedings of the Anglican synod.”
The Telegraph, Tristram Fane Saunders: “There is something of mild-to-moderate interest on every other page but, collectively, I feel about these letters how Eliot felt about Swinburne’s late poems: yes, many of them are good, ‘But at the same time, it is not necessary to read them, in a world crammed with reading-matter.'”
London Review of Books, Robert Crawford: “In scope, detail and quality of annotation this edition is utterly remarkable.”
Church Times, Richard Harries: “[These letters] also reveal his great clarity as a prose writer, a quality that he urges others to strive for.”
Times Literary Supplement, Stefan Collini: “Readers principally interested in Eliot’s poetry will by this point have grown used to the longueurs of these bulky volumes…Overwhelmingly, what this volume, like the others covering his middle years, gives us are other Eliots – the hard-working publisher, the hands-on journal editor, the supporter of good causes, the frequent diner-out and weekender… the playful friend, the loyal brother, and the tormented husband.”
Forthcoming Lyndall Gordon book, Eliot Among the Women, announced, January 2019
His relationships with his first wife, Vivienne Haigh Wood, companion Mary Trevelyan, and second wife Valerie Fletcher, as well as his mother, and first publisher Virginia Woolf, will all be explored.
But in particular the book will draw upon the sealed correspondence between Eliot and Emily Hale, due to be opened in January next year. Gordon says that these letters are “central to understanding his most private emotion during the decades when his creativity was at its height”.
Her book is scheduled for publication in 2022, and some further details are here.
Call for Papers: Collection of Essays on TS Eliot’s Prose, January 2019
For a proposed volume celebrating the forthcoming completion of The Complete Prose of TS Eliot, co-editors Jayme Stayer and Anthony Cuda are soliciting abstracts for original essays on aspects of Eliot’s work that pertain to his non-fiction prose. The volume will be dedicated to the General Editor of The Prose, Ronald Schuchard, to honor his influence in the fields of Eliot studies and modernism.
Essays may fall into the following categories, but are not limited to what is described here:
• original readings of the poems or plays that make use of the less familiar prose as context
• assessments of Eliot’s role as cultural commentator, literary critic, or Christian apologist
• explorations of how Eliot’s prose engages with modernism, culture, politics, theology or contemporary art
• analyses of how newly published pieces or newly annotated pieces shed different light on an aspect of Eliot’s work
• descriptions of an arc or trajectory in Eliot’s thought that is revealed by the chronological presentation of the prose, and/or newly published pieces
• descriptions of a trajectory of an important or newly discovered idea or theme
• stylistic or linguistic analyses of the prose
• discussions of the mutually informing relationships between the new editions of the prose and the letters
• a “guide” or “handbook” approach to a complex or recurrent idea in the prose
Send a 300-word abstract and a brief CV by Apr. 1, 2019 to Jayme Stayer (jayme.stayer(at)gmail.com). Finished essays will be due sometime in early 2020.
TS Eliot and Organicism, January 2019
“Jeremy Diaper elucidates and contextualizes several facets of Eliot’s organic thinking, ranging from composting and soil fertility, to regionalism, nutrition and culinary skills. Through detailed examination of Eliot’s engagement with organic issues, this book offers environmental readings of Eliot’s poetry and plays and demonstrates that agrarian concerns emerge as a notable theme in his literary output.”
TS Eliot and Organicism is published by Liverpool University Press and details are here.
Members of the TS Eliot Society UK (who may recall Jeremy Diaper’s essay on this subject in our 2017 Journal) are entitled to a generous 30% discount on the cover price – see the Members’ Area for details.
Review: Times Literary Supplement, Stefan Collini: “Diaper is obviously not wrong to find ambivalent uses of imagery from the natural world in Eliot’s poetry, or extended rehearsals of agrarian themes in his later prose… but a sharper sense of critical proportion would have made his individual insights more persuasive.”
Unreal City photobook seeks funding, January 2019
In an interview in The London Magazine, containing several images from the project, van Heerden explains that “my intention was to view London as it is today through the lens of The Waste Land, although I would have to qualify this by saying that it is my own transmutation of The Waste Land which forms the basis of the juxtaposition, and not an attempt to determine what Eliot’s own visual take might have been…So the pictures are not a straightforward illustration of the text of the poem… but rather a creative transmutation.”
Unreal City has already attracted an endorsement from Bernard O’Donoghue, who is writing an essay for the book. Further details are on the book’s funding page here.
TS Eliot rejected the poetry of Laurie Lee, December 2018
An article in the Sunday Telegraph draws upon the forthcoming further volume of The Letters of TS Eliot to reveal that Eliot rejected the poetry of a 23-year-old Laurie Lee.
In his rejection letter of 1937, Eliot wrote: “It is with regret that I must say that his poems do not seem to me, so far, remarkable enough to justify our undertaking their publication.”
But, he added, “This is, however, only the opinion of one man, who often feels that excessive reading of manuscript verse may have dulled his sensibility, and I therefore advise you to make a fresh attempt elsewhere.”
Editor John Haffenden comments that “Eliot was the greatest judge of poetry of the 20th century…and indeed Laurie Lee did not find his greatness as a poet.”
The Letters of TS Eliot Vol 8: 1936-1938 is scheduled for publication in January.
What happened to the original version of The Waste Land? December 2018
“Thank God he reduced a mess of some eight hundred lines to about half its size.” An article on The Literary Hub summarises the relationship between TS Eliot and Ezra Pound, and their work on the original version of The Waste Land. The article quotes letters, telegrams and interviews, and is excerpted from The Poems of TS Eliot Volume I by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue.
The Agèd Eagle – Epstein’s bust of TS Eliot, December 2018
In a fascinating Object in Focus article for the University of Birmingham, Dr Matthew Geary discusses Jacob Epstein’s famous bust of TS Eliot.
Geary details Eliot’s sitting for Epstein in 1951, and from this he charts the development of a heartfelt and unlikely friendship in the latter years of both men’s lives. He concludes that “great scholarly insights may yet be garnered from the Eliot-Epstein connection.”
TS Eliot’s apartment block for sale, December 2018
The Telegraph (paywall) reports that Kensington Court Gardens, where TS and Valerie Eliot lived, is up for auction.
The Eliots’ flat itself, occupied by the Trustees of the TS Eliot Foundation, is not for sale; the auction is of a reversionary ground rent investment in the apartment block, together with two other apartments.
The landlords say that “Eliot would often send his landlord witty verses complaining about the building’s plumbing or joking about the landlord’s hired handymen, Mick and Stan, whom he likened to a slapstick double act.”
TS Eliot’s Dialectical Imagination by Jewel Spears Brooker, December 2018
“Eliot and his modernist contemporaries were tormented by dualisms – the gap between mind and body, thought and feeling, male and female, the artists and society,” write the publishers. “This book, anchored in archival work and close reading, explores the evolution of Eliot’s attempt to deal with this impasse in art and in life.”
The author is described by Anthony Cuda, Director of the TS Eliot International Summer School, as “among the most accomplished of Eliot scholars; her list of publications, honours and achievements is staggering”; and her book is “an impressively comprehensive, exhaustively researched and refreshingly new examination… opening unexpected pathways into texts that have been obscured by old, entrenched interpretations.”
TS Eliot’s Dialectical Imagination has been described as “a first-rate study” by John Haffenden, editor of The Letters of TS Eliot. “Fresh knowledge and insights abound.”
Members of the TS Eliot Society UK are able to purchase the book with a generous 30% discount from the published price – see the Members Area for details.
The Letters of TS Eliot Vol 8: 1936-1938, November 2018
The 1000pp Volume 8 will span the years 1936 to 1938, covering the publication of his Collected Poems (1936), and the compilation of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. “Eliot corresponds with many of the best-known writers of the 1930s”, says the Spring catalogue from Faber, with names including Auden, Betjeman, Pound and Woolf.
“In addition, this volume makes public for the first time the correspondence detailing his wife Vivien’s admission to a psychiatric asylum. It also reveals Eliot’s care and concern for his intimate American friend Emily Hale.”
Publication is scheduled for 17th January, with a cover price of £50.
Literature, Science and TS Eliot, November 2018
Being Modern is a collection of essays from 17 contributors published by UCL Press. The book “builds on recent scholarly interest to explore engagement with science across culture from the end of the nineteenth century to approximately 1940.”
Among the essays, Professor Morag Schiach, Professor of Cultural History at Queen Mary, University of London, writes on Eliot’s use of the scientific term ‘catalyst’ to describe the mind of the poet; while Kevin Brazil, a Lecturer in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature at the University of Southampton, explores Eliot’s declaration that “poetry is a science” in T.S. Eliot: modernist literature, disciplines and the systematic pursuit of knowledge.
Available in hardback and paperback, the book can also be downloaded as a free, open access PDF from UCL Press
TS Eliot International Summer School 2019 open for registration, October 2018
Held annually in Bloomsbury, London, the 2019 TS Eliot International Summer School is now open for registration here.
From July 6th-14th, the Summer School welcomes to central London all with an interest in the life and work of TS Eliot. It is hosted by the Institute of English Studies of the University of London, which facilitates study and research across the field of English Studies.
The Summer School brings together some of the most distinguished scholars of T.S. Eliot and Modern Literature. This year’s seminar leaders and lecturers are also listed here. It also incorporates walks in London, and visits to Burnt Norton and to Little Gidding (for the Annual TS Eliot Festival). A fuller outline of the programme is here, and details of fees are here.
Places on the Summer School are limited to 100 and will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis.
Members of the TS Eliot Society (UK) are entitled to a 25% discount on Summer School fees – please see the Members Area for details.
The Poems of TS Eliot – paperback edition published, October 2018
The work was hailed on its publication in hardback almost three years ago; it was described as “A monumental achievement” by David Wheatley in The Guardian. Scroll down to November 2015 for links to a full list of reviews.
The paperback volumes each have a cover price of £25; the hardback volumes each have a cover price of £40, but are still available online for less.
Listen online to Michael Hastings’ play, Tom and Viv, October 2018
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as TS Eliot, and Lia Williams as Vivienne, this audio version of the drama, adapted and directed by Peter Kavanagh, was first broadcast by BBC Radio 4 in 2008.
You can listen online to the drama here until 6th November.
TS Eliot’s letter reveals details of receiving Nobel Prize, October 2018
A long, intimate letter from TS Eliot to his family has revealed details of what it was like to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in Stockholm.
Seventy years after Eliot’s award the letter, held in the Houghton Library, Harvard, has been released, at the time when this year’s prize, which is not being awarded, would have been made.
In the lengthy letter, Eliot describes his visit to Stockholm in detail, revealing details of the ceremony itself, and also his own discomfort at being recognised and asked for autographs. The letter ends, “It was a relief to reach Northolt Airport and find that nobody there took the slightest notice of me. And I hope that nobody will for some time to come.”
AN Wilson’s Return to TSEliotland on BBC4, October 2018
“From the halls of Harvard University to a Somerset village, via a Margate promenade shelter,” Wilson “traces Eliot’s life story as it informs his greatest works“.
“Wilson travels to the places that inspired them, visiting Eliot’s family’s holiday home on the Massachusetts coast, following the poet to Oxford… and on to London…[concluding] his journey by visiting some of the key locations around which the poet structured his final masterpiece, Four Quartets.”
Full details of the programme are here.
Robert Redford quotes East Coker, September 2018
In a rare interview broadcast by CBS News, the actor Robert Redford revealed his fondness for lines from TS Eliot’s East Coker: ‘For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.’
“It’s one of my favorite phrases,” said Redford. “Because you can’t guarantee where the trying is going to get you. So, you can’t guarantee the result. The only thing there is in its place is the trying. That’s where the action is.”
A visit to Gloucester, Massachusetts., and the Dry Salvages, September 2018
In TS Eliot’s Seaside Childhood, the Off The Path podcast from WSHU Public Radio pays a brief (7mins) visit to the Eliot childhood summer home in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and hears about a boat trip around the Dry Salvages.
Two Faber publications with Eliot connections, September 2018
Dear Mr Faber: The Untold Story of a Great Publishing House, by Toby Faber, draws upon “the words of the staff and authors who lived it – in letters, memoirs and diary entries”. It may provide further insight into Eliot’s time at Faber; publication is scheduled for May 2019.
And a new cover design graces an edition of The Waste Land, due in September 2019. The Faber poetry list is being celebrated decade by decade, featuring distinctive new covers and endpapers commissioned from a range of renowned printmakers, textile designers and pattern-makers.
Lemn Sissay to read Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, August 2018
The author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay has Tweeted:
Just in: TS Eliot Estate have offered me the best job ever: To be the voice of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.
Appropriately, this was Tweeted on 8th August – International Cat Day.
TS Eliot Studies Annual Seminar Prize, August 2018
The TS Eliot Studies Annual has announced the award of a prize for the best seminar paper presented by an early-career scholar at the the annual meeting of the US TS Eliot Society.
Graduate students and recent PhDs who attend a seminar at the annual meeting are eligible; “The winning paper will present original research and a persuasive argument in clear/fluent prose“. The winner will receive a monetary prize and a copy of the following year’s Annual. Details and eligibility conditions are on the Annual‘s Facebook page.
Summer repeat of In Our Time on Four Quartets, July 2018
The guests are Mark Ford, Professor of English and American Literature at University College London; David Moody, Emeritus Professor of English and American Literature at the University of York; and Fran Brearton,
Professor of Modern Poetry at Queen’s University, Belfast.
The programme is on the BBC iPlayer at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06f85fy
Contents of second TS Eliot Studies Annual announced, July 2018
The contents have been announced of Vol 2 of the TS Eliot Studies Annual.
Launched under John D Morgenstern in 2017, the Annual “strives to be the leading venue for the critical reassessment of Eliot’s life and work in light of the ongoing publication of his letters, critical volumes of his complete prose, the new edition of his complete poems, and the forthcoming critical edition of his plays.”
Contributors to Volume 2 include John D Morgenstern, Frances Dickey, Seamus Perry, John Haffenden and Jewel Spears Brooker. A full list of contents and contributors is here.
Wyndham Lewis’ portrait of TS Eliot: exhibition, essay and lecture, June 2018
For the first time since its rejection in 1938, the portrait of TS Eliot by Wyndham Lewis is being shown at the Royal Academy, London. Its rejection from the RA’s Summer Exhibition sparked Lewis’s resignation from the Academy. The portrait is being exhibited as part of the RA’s exhibition, The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Summer Exhibition (12th June to 19th August).
The portrait will be the subject of a talk at the Royal Academy, Work in focus: ‘Portrait of T.S. Eliot’ by Wyndham Lewis, on Friday 13th July at 11am. “Part publicity stunt, part sincere tribute, the portrait tells us as much about Eliot’s significance as about Lewis’s impishness.” Given by Dr Nathan Waddell, Senior Lecturer in the Department of English Literature at the University of Birmingham, and current Chairperson of the Wyndham Lewis Society, details of the talk are here.
And in the current issue of the Journal of the TS Eliot Society, Jaron Murphy explores in detail Eliot’s relationship with the portrait, “arguably the iconic image of Eliot internationally”. His essay is entitled “Mr Eliot has Re-Discovered a Portrait of Himself”: Reframing Lewis’s Rejected Masterpiece in the 21st Century. For details of how to obtain the Journal, scroll down two items.
Lord Harries lectures on TS Eliot’s conversion, June 2018
“From what was he converted?” asks the former Bishop of Oxford. “Why did he convert? What was the immediate effect of that conversion? The recently published 6 volumes of Eliot’s letters covering the period help shed light on the answers.” The lecture can be viewed online here.
Rare TS Eliot books feature in new Blackwell’s catalogue, June 2018
During his long relationship with Emily Hale, Eliot sent her a copy of each of his publications. This copy of The Eighteen-Eighties: Essays by Fellows of the Royal Society of Literature also carries Hale’s own bookplate (right), and may have been given away by her in 1957, upon Eliot’s marriage to Valerie Eliot. The catalogue tells more of the fascinating story behind the book, which is for sale at £8,500.
The catalogue also contains other Eliot rarities, including a First Edition of After Strange Gods; a signed copy of Murder In The Cathedral; a copy of Eliot’s Westminster Abbey funeral service; and a Faber & Faber Christmas card signed by TS Eliot. The catalogue is available to download here.
The Journal of the TS Eliot Society 2018, May 2018
Edited by Dr Scott Freer, it contains essays by Michael Levenson, Barry Spurr, Qiang Huang and Jaron Murphy, with book and event reviews by Matthew Geary and Mary Ann Lund. Full details of the contents are on the dedicated Journal page (navigation above).
The Journal is £8.00; send a cheque payable to TS Eliot Society to the Secretary at 73A Mill Road, Cambridge, CB1 2AW, with a self-addressed C5 envelope, stamped with £1.20 of postage. Copies will also be on sale at the TS Eliot Festival at Little Gidding on 8th July.
Members of the Society are entitled to a free copy of the Journal; either pick yours up at the Festival, or send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the Secretary as above.
Author Colm Tóibín “often wishes he was TS Eliot”, May 2018
“He lived to be old, was lucky in love late in life and he got to write Four Quartets.”
The full interview is here.
TS Eliot’s vocals on blues version of The Hollow Men, May 2018
Cut-up lines from Eliot’s recording are backed by a blues beat and slide guitars on the Ballistic Angels track, “feat Mr. Eliot”. Part of a “recycling music project”, you can listen to the track here.
Lyndall Gordon on Jeremy Irons’ readings of TS Eliot, May 2018
“Irons voices an Eliot,” she writes, “who craves, desires and suffers more openly than in the sober accents of Gielgud and Guinness.” The review is here.
TS Eliot, writing from Margate, April 2018
The British Library has published an article in its English and Drama blog entitled TS Eliot in Margate: Writing ‘The Waste Land’, which reproduces a letter from Eliot to to his friend and fellow author Sydney Schiff, describing his writing of “a rough draft of part of part III” of what was to become The Waste Land.
“I have done this,” he writes, “while sitting in a shelter on the front.” He says that he does not know “whether it will do”, and “must wait for Vivien’s opinion as to whether it is printable.”
The article and letter are here.
“I think you are today’s voice for Eliot”, Valerie told Jeremy Irons, April 2018
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Jeremy Irons talks about reading the poetry of TS Eliot; about Valerie Eliot’s approval of his reading style; and about the meditative state he tries to achieve prior to a reading.
“This isn’t getting as deep as I think Eliot is trying to get, but what I do is I smoke and I get out of noisy places and noisy dinners and I stand on the sidewalk or on the terrace,” he says, in The Poetic Side of Jeremy Irons. “I can’t bear the constant prattle of life.”
Jeremy Irons is reading Four Quartets live in London on April 9th; see below for details.
Jeremy Irons reads TS Eliot – new promotional website, March 2018
The site provides details of the background to the recording, of the forthcoming reading by Jeremy Irons at Southwark Cathedral on 9th April (see our own Events page for details), and a short extract of Jeremy Irons reading the opening of The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock. The website is here.
The recording is reviewed in:
The Times: “Irons’s mature voicing has…a measured thoughtfulness that is perfectly matched to Eliot’s preoccupation with age, time and death.”
UPDATE: In an audio interview for The American Scholar, Voicing A Legend, Jeremy Irons talks about the background to his recordings, and his way of reading Eliot, and concludes by reading Aunt Helen.
TS Eliot and the Dynamic Imagination, March 2018
“[Eliot’s] work is full of moments of luminous recognitions, moments in which a writer discovers both subject and appropriate image.” A new book by Sarah Kennedy explores TS Eliot and the Dynamic Imagination.
“Her study of Eliot’s poetics seeks out those images most striking in their resonance and recurrence: the ‘sea-change’, the ‘light invisible’ and the ‘dark ghost’. She makes the case for these sustained metaphors as constitutive of the poet’s imagination and art.”
Sarah Kennedy gave the 2016 TS Eliot Lecture on Eliot’s Ghost Women; an audio recording is available to members. She is a Fellow in English at Downing College, Cambridge, and she contributed a chapter on Ash-Wednesday and the Ariel Poems to the New Cambridge Companion to TS Eliot.
Hogarth Press First Edition of The Waste Land to be auctioned, February 2018
Details of the lot are here; the estimated price is £1,500–£2,500. In October 2015, a similar copy sold at a Dreweatts auction for £1,900, although a Hogarth Press First Edition donated to Oxfam, and sold by Bonhams in 2013, achieved £4,500 (£5,625 including premium).
TS Eliot, Emily Hale and California, February 2018
An article in the magazine of Scripps Women’s College, Claremont, California, examines TS Eliot’s only trip to an area he described as “one of America’s ‘two great mistakes'” (the other being New York).
“In late December 1932,” writes Joseph Maddrey, “the famously staid poet boarded a train from Boston to Southern California. Officially, he was a renowned scholar accepting an invitation to give a paid lecture at a liberal arts college. Unofficially, perhaps, he was a spirited romantic chasing a long-lost love.”
“We now know that Eliot made the journey primarily to see his friend, Emily Hale, the new drama teacher at Scripps.”
The Waste Land and mental illness, February 2018
“TS Eliot’s The Waste Land remains one of the finest reflections on mental illness ever written,” says the headline on an article in The Guardian.
Jonathan McAloon writes that “The crisis at the heart of The Waste Land wasn’t only global, it was also personal.” However, observers have pointed out that his wording within the article itself is that “Eliot’s poem is still one of the finest illustrations of general and personal inner turmoil there is.”
TS Eliot among the artists, February 2018
“Tell me who Kandinsky is“, an article in Apollo, the international arts magazine, explores TS Eliot’s interest in the art of his time.
“There is a certain irony in Eliot’s techniques for composing poetry being compared to parallel developments in the visual arts,” writes Dr Matthew Sperling, “not only because Eliot’s knowledge of European modernism was somewhat second-hand, but also because his verse of this period is intensely agonised about visual experience…”
TS Eliot International Summer School – 2018 programme announced, February 2018
Its programme has now been announced; it includes an address by Irish novelist, playwright, poet and critic Colm Tόibín, and lectures by Seamus Perry, Frances Dickey, John Haffenden, Lyndall Gordon, Mark Ford and Dame Hermione Lee, amongst other Eliot authorities and scholars.
Margate and TS Eliot, January 2018
Granta has published an extract from David Seabrook’s book, All The Devils Are Here, in which he explores both contemporary Margate, and TS Eliot’s period in the town; it will be of particular interest to anyone visiting the Eliot-related exhibitions in Margate this Spring (see Events for details).
The extract is here.
TS Eliot’s The Hollow Men inspires electronic music project, January 2018
Houndstooth – the label arm of London’s Fabric club –is releasing a 25-track compilation of experimental electronics inspired by TS Eliot’s 1925 poem The Hollow Men that will roll out track by track over the next few weeks.
Titled In Death’s Dream Kingdom, the 25-track project features artists working in the darker fringes of experimental and techno music. They were given a brief to take the phrase “in Death’s dream kingdom”, or the whole of the poem from which it comes, as inspiration.
More information about the background to the project and its microsite are here.
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.
The Waste Land listed in 100 Best Nonfiction Books, December 2016
In his ongoing series in The Guardian, Robert McCrum has listed The Waste Land in The 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time.
“The Waste Land has attracted many labels,” he writes, “from the quintessential work of ‘modernism’ to the ‘poetical equivalent to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring‘. It was also one of those very rare works that both embody and articulate the spirit of the age. As such, it would be adored, vilified, parodied, disparaged, obsessed over, canonised and endlessly recited.”
Routledge reissue 10 Library Editions: TS Eliot, December 2016
This set reissues 10 books on TS Eliot originally published between 1952 and 1991. The volumes examine many of Eliot’s most respected works, and include Grover Smith’s well-known work on The Waste Land, and Word Unheard: A Guide Through Eliot’s Four Quartets by Harry Blamires.
As well as exploring Eliot’s work, this collection also provides a comprehensive analysis of the man behind the poetry, particularly in Frederick Tomlin’s T.S. Eliot: A Friendship. They are available as a complete set, or as individual volumes, with cheaper e-books also available. Details on the Library Editions books are here.
Annual TS Eliot Lecture 2016: ‘Eliot’s Ghost Women’ by Dr Sarah Kennedy, November 2016
Dr Kennedy is Fellow in English at Downing College, Cambridge and, among her writings on TS Eliot, recently contributed the chapter Let these words answer: Ash-Wednesday and the Ariel Poems to The New Cambridge Companion to T. S. Eliot.
The Lecture, presented by the TS Eliot Society (UK), is hosted this year by Newnham College, Cambridge, recipients of the Valerie Eliot Fund for English, and will be given in:
Lucia Windsor Room, Newnham College, Cambridge CB3 9DF
The Lecture is open to the public, and admission is free.
Members of the TS Eliot Society can register for reserved seating at the Lecture, and a private drinks reception on the evening; see the Members Area for details.
Searching for Valerie Eliot, November 2016
Karen Christensen, who is currently writing a biography of Valerie Eliot, has described in Berkshire Notes her difficulties in corroborating the many anecdotes about Valerie and her life with TS Eliot.
TS Eliot “kind of a jerk”, says former TS Eliot Prize winner, November 2016
Anne Carson, winner of the TS Eliot Prize in 2001, has declared that TS Eliot “is kind of a jerk”.
In an interview with cbc Radio, in her native Canada, Anne Carson was asked “Is TS Eliot correct, then, when he says that poetry is largely punctuation?” (11.00 mins)
“Well,” she replies, “y’know, TS Eliot is kind of a jerk.”
She goes on to admit, however, that “I suppose if you took away the punctuation there wouldn’t be the same meaning left.”
The Politics of [TS Eliot’s] Private Life, November 2016
“Eliot has long been of interest to conservatives.” In the US conservative publication National Review, Kevin D Williamson is inspired by The Poems of TS Eliot to explore the relationship between domestic peace, personal happiness and art, in The Politics of Private Life. “Eliot’s Tall Girl may have been uncomplicated in comparison to his brilliant, vivacious, and utterly mad first wife,” he writes, “but she was a better foundation for happiness than a Nobel prize.”
A Lovesong, a short film inspired by Prufrock, October 2016
Taking TS Eliot’s The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock as its starting point, A Lovesong, a short film by Australian filmmakers The Passion, will launch on 1st December.
“Across an evening, in the company of a solitary man pondering the ‘decision and revisions’ of his life which a minute will reverse, we enter the maelstrom to explore ‘the half-deserted streets’, ‘sawdust restaurants’ and ‘one-night cheap hotels’ of New York and of Eliot’s imagination.”
What to make of TS Eliot?, October 2016
Garrick Davis, poet and founding editor of the Contemporary Poetry Review, asks ‘What to make of TS Eliot?’ in the Fall 2016 issue of Humanities, the Magazine of the National Endowment of the Humanities. His interesting essay, drawing upon both past revelations and the recent critical edition of The Poems, challenges readers to examine “the human anguish still buried under the exegesis”.
St Mary Woolnoth designated ‘at risk’, October 2016
Its Heritage at Risk entry says that “There is settlement in the tower causing cracks which need to be monitored. Elsewhere asphalt roofing needs to be repaired, along with the nave parapet to Lombard Street.”
The full Historic England list entry for the church provides a fascinating outline of its history.
Faber and Eliot Estate launch tseliot.com website, October 2016
A new website dedicated to TS Eliot has been launched by his publishers, Faber, together with the poet’s estate.
tseliot.com contains many previously unseen images and unpublished letters. There are essays, much of his criticism available to read in full, material from the Criterion and quotes from Eliot on his preoccupations. amongst much other material.
The new website is featured in an article in The Guardian. The Eliot estate and Faber believe the site “sets a new standard for the public digital presence of a literary figure”.
TS Eliot Festival 2017, October 2016
Make a note in your diaries; the one-day event will take place in the grounds of Little Gidding, and the line-up will be announced in due course.
TS Eliot, Agent of his own demise, October 2016
In an intriguing short essay, followed by some intelligent comments, Morgan Meis argues that in Tradition and the Individual Talent Eliot, following an Aristotelian line, “crafted a set of arguments that led necessarily to cultural irrelevance and are, moreover, unchristian”.
“In the end, therefore,” Meis concludes, “[Eliot] used the tools of Modernism to shut the door on Modernity, and therefore to shut the door on life as it was actually lived in his time.” The essay is here.
Two rare TS Eliot recordings to be broadcast, September 2016
The programme is part of a 50-part series celebrating 70 years of Radio 3’s recording of poets and poetry since it was launched as the Third Programme in September 1946
The broadcast is on Tuesday 4th October at 21.55 on BBC Radio 3; you can listen to the programme after broadcast here.
(Update: Following the broadcast, sources insist that the recording of Journey of the Magi is actually the 1947 recording, made at the Poetry Room, Harvard College Library, and subsequently released on Harvard Vocarium Records P-1202-3)
“The culture of the age and the experience of the man”, September 2016
“Editing is about facts and tact, about presenting things clearly while solving innumerable small editorial problems.” In an article, Taking the Poet at his Word, Editor Jim McCue provides a fascinating overview of the purpose behind the critical edition of The Poems – illustrated by this extraordinary envelope addressed in rhyme by TS Eliot.
2016/17 Membership of TS Eliot Society now open, September 2016
These include discounts and special access for events organised by the Society, such as the Annual TS Eliot Lecture, and the TS Eliot Festival, as well as Member-only offers which have included other event and book discounts. Members receive a free copy of our academic Journal, as well as a quarterly newsletter on Eliot-related matters, and can receive monthly e-mail updates on news, publications, events and other material via the website. And the Members Only area of our website is used to request information and develop projects among Eliot enthusiasts, academics and scholars.
Full details of Membership are available via our dedicated Membership page.
TS Eliot, Edgar Lee Masters and Glorious France, September 2016
In a fascinating essay, Jim McCue explores (Section I) influences and borrowings in Eliot’s work from the poet Edgar Lee Masters; (Section II) Eliot’s response to the emotions and poetry of WWI; and (Section III) throws interesting light upon the infamous “axle-tree” passage in Burnt Norton. The essay can be read and downloaded here
Little Gidding and ‘the sack that never happened’, August 2016
In a lengthy research article, the independent scholar Trevor Cooper explores “The sack that never happened: Little Gidding, puritan soldiers, and the making of a myth“.
Cooper argues that “In his poem Little Gidding, T. S. Eliot used this shutting down of the Ferrars’ religious life to contrast worldly failure with the permanence of spiritual values, and the violent closure of Little Gidding and the destruction of the house is generally seen as emblematic of the religious disputes of the 1640s. But, as this paper shows, the sack never happened, and many of the supporting elements of the story are also imaginary.”
Professor Mark Ford reviews the “all-comprehending” critical edition, August 2016
First mentioned during his delivery of the Annual TS Eliot Lecture in November 2015, Professor Mark Ford’s review of the Critical Edition of The Poems of TS Eliot appears in the new issue of the London Review of Books.
“Anyone with an interest in Eliot will be grateful for, and marvel at, the truly extraordinary knowledge of all things Eliotic that underpins these volumes,” writes Professor Ford, of University College, London, ” but – to get my quibble out of the way early, so that I can praise the numerous virtues of this edition with a clear conscience – it is not always easy to discern the value of the links the editors posit between Eliot’s words and the analogous phrases, drawn from a bewildering array of writers, presented for comparison in the commentary.”
This long, erudite and fascinating review, titled “I Gotta Use Words”, can be read as a free sample of the LRB here.
Remembering TS Eliot, August 2016
“How could he use such awful words?” In a short article in the London Review of Books,, Mary-Kay Wilmers recalls working with TS Eliot at Faber in March 1961.
Jeremy Irons recording entire TS Eliot canon, July 2016
Following his acclaimed recordings of The Waste Land, Four Quartets, Prufrock and the Practical Cats, Jeremy Irons is in the process of recording the remaining TS Eliot poems for BBC Radio 4, in order to complete his readings of the poet’s entire canon.
This was revealed at the TS Eliot Festival 2016 by Jeremy Howe, Commissioning Editor for Drama and Fiction for BBC Radio 4. Howe has been responsible for commissioning Irons’s readings to date, and was discussing the recordings and their qualities before the Festival audience.
Howe also revealed that he is considering a way in which all of the recordings might then be broadcast in chronological sequence, in a major single broadcast event which would reflect Eliot’s development throughout his poetic career.
Faber publisher Matthew Evans dies, July 2016
Matthew Evans, the former Faber & Faber boss, who became Lord Evans of Temple Guiting, has died aged 74. One of the most important figures in British publishing, Evans was instrumental in persuading Valerie Eliot to agree to the adaptation of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats as the musical Cats. This provided Faber “with a valuable income stream that kept it in business – protecting it at a time when other independent publishers were being taken over or going bust.” Read more in The Guardian.
An etymological map of Prufrock, July 2016
Elisabeth Cook, a “book, film and language buff” based in the US, has produced an “etymological map” of the first stanza of The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock. The object is to provoke thought by illustrating the etymological origins of the words used by TS Eliot.
The result is posted on her “literary adventure blog” Lit All Over.
TS Eliot Festival 2016 moves to single-day event, June 2016
Unfortunately, it has not been possible to stage the activities planned for the preceding day, Saturday 9th. However, key speakers have been rescheduled for Sunday 10th, which now has an updated and enhanced line-up.
“We’re very sorry that it’s not been possible to stage a two-day event as originally planned,” said the organisers, “but we can promise a fascinating and even fuller day on Sunday 10th, and look forward to welcoming Eliot enthusiasts then.”
The organisers apologise to those who have bought either Saturday or Weekend tickets, and purchasers are being contacted regarding refunds. Those holding Weekend tickets will be able to pick-up the appropriate refund on the Sunday, while anyone not attending will receive a refund by post. Any queries should be directed to the Box Office on 01832 274734
Full details of the Festival and all arrangements are on our dedicated page here.
TS Eliot and the defence of Christian civilisation, June 2016
An article in the Catholic World Report declares that “the decadence [TS Eliot] predicted would overtake the West if it chose to abandon its Christian culture has duly arrived.”
Drawing upon the first four volumes of The Complete Prose of TS Eliot, Edward Short sets out “to show how Eliot anatomizes this decadence by returning again and again not only to the question of what constitutes Christian civilization but of how best to understand, protect, and revitalize it.” The article is here.
Religion and Myth in TS Eliot’s poetry, June 2016
A new volume of essays “presents a rich and powerful range of essays by leading and emerging T.S. Eliot and literary modernist scholars, considering the doctrinal, religious, humanist, mythic and secular aspects of Eliot’s poetry.”
Religion and Myth in TS Eliot’s Poetry (Cambridge Scholars Publishing) “pays particular attention to the multivalent spiritual dimensions of his popular poems”. The volume is edited by Scott Freer (who now edits the Journal of the TS Eliot Society) and will be published on 1st August.
TS Eliot’s appearance in Blast available online, June 2016
Monoskop, “a wiki for collaborative studies of art, media and the humanities”, has put online an extensive archive of avant-garde and modernist magazines from 1890-1939. This includes the second issue of Blast, the Wyndham Lewis magazine, in which two of TS Eliot’s poems appeared.
Their original appearance is of interest for unusual punctuation, and also for the variation in the title, Rhapsody of (sic) A Windy Night – presumably a misprint, but a variation not recorded in the recent critical edition of The Poems.
Poetry Book Society, founded by TS Eliot, to close June 2016
The Poetry Book Society (PBS), founded in 1953 by TS Eliot and friends, is winding down after more than 50 years supporting and encouraging the art of poetry and the sale of poetry books. Management of the T S Eliot Prize, previously handled by PBS, has been assumed by the T S Eliot Foundation.
The PBS offered selections of the best new poetry collections of the quarter, chosen by the poet selectors. This side of its activities is being taken over by Inpress, a not-for-profit organisation that provides marketing and distribution services for independent publishers.
More details are here.
British Library puts TS Eliot collection online, May 2016
A representative of the British Library talked on the Today programme (BBC Radio 4, 25th May, 08.55) about their twentieth-century collection, including their TS Eliot material, placed online today.
Their TS Eliot material is here – it includes First Editions, original letters, manuscripts and published articles both by and about Eliot.
TS & Valerie Eliot correspondence acquired, May 2016
TS Eliot’s 1944-1959 letters to his friends Collin and Lillian Brooks exude uncharacteristic displays of feeling in the glow of his newfound romance–a relationship that Collin helped initiate, by telling Valerie of the secretarial opening at Faber.
The example here makes reference to the couple’s eventual marriage, which took place at 6.15 am to avoid publicity.
More details and examples of the letters are here.
Christopher Ricks on his annotated edition of The Poems of TS Eliot, May 2016
The Arts Fuse, Boston’s online arts magazine, has published an interview with Christopher Ricks in which he talks about his personal feelings, ambitions and approaches regarding his annotated edition of The Poems – the article is here, with the interview itself beginning some way down the page.
Movie to be made of Cats, May 2016
In news distantly related to TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, a film is to be made of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Cats. It is to be directed and produced by Tom Hooper, who was responsible for the 2012 movie adaptation of Les Miserables, as well as The King’s Speech and The Danish Girl. The project was announced in Variety. “Well, the Theatre’s certainly not what it was,” said Gus the Theatre Cat.
TS Eliot rarities for sale, April 2016
Among several interesting items, including signed translations, First Editions and a vinyl recording, the new Modernism catalogue from Blackwell’s Rare Books includes this menu, for a meal to celebrate TS Eliot’s 75th birthday. There are many items from other authors of the period, and a full catalogue can be downloaded here.
Recording of Vivienne song cycle to be released, April 2016
With music by Stephen McNeff, and lyrics by Andy Rashleigh (filled with oblique Eliot references), Vivienne is performed by Clare McCaldin, and accompanied by Libby Burgess. The pair have performed this haunting work in fully-staged and concert versions, including at the 2014 TS Eliot Festival, to great acclaim.
Full details of the recording (which also includes works by Purcell, Brahms and others) are here.
TS Eliot translated and published in Persian, April 2016
According to Iran’s Book News Agency, the translation was by Behrouz Shadlou, and the 180-page book is published by Boutimar Publications in Tehran.
Secret Cinema project The Waste Land to promote their latest venture, March 2016
In order to promote their summer event, an interactive version of the film 28 Days Later, immersive cinema company Secret Cinema projected the opening lines of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land on to Balfron Tower, Ernö Goldfinger’s Grade II-listed tower block in Poplar, East London. The Tower features in Danny Boyle’s film.
An Annotated Eliot in the TLS, March 2016
In the lead review of the Times Literary Supplement 9th March 2016 (available to subscribers and purchasers only) Adam Kirsch reviews The Poems of TS Eliot, which the Editor describes as “one of the great achievements in the literary scholarship of our time”. Kirsch sees the editors’ notes and commentaries as “so comprehensive and authoritative that one can’t imagine their being superseded”. He also applauds their demonstration that, for all the exposure of the parts, it is Eliot’s “elusive magic which makes the whole machine go”.
The Letters of T. S. Eliot Volume 6: 1932-1933, February 2016
Publication has been announced of Volume 6 of The Letters of TS Eliot. Published on 18th February, the volume contains previously unpublished correspondence relating to Vivienne Eliot’s mental illness, both with friends and with Vivienne herself. According to The Guardian, their publication “challenges the view that [Eliot] was cold towards his wife Vivien [sic] as she suffered mental illness.”
Links to reviews are being updated as they appear:
David Sexton in the Evening Standard: “This volume…includes electrifying letters, including quite a few, startlingly deranged, from Vivienne herself.”
James Attlee in The Independent: “It’s all here, from the business-like to the searingly personal.”
Craig Raine in The Spectator: “a more rounded, more human, more convincing Eliot emerges from these letters”
Lesley McDowell, The Herald, Scotland : “There is a huge sense of self-preservation throughout this volume”
Young Eliot published in paperback, February 2016
Reviews can be seen by scrolling down this page to its hardback publication date of January 2015
Little Gidding appoints new Dean, February 2016
Little Gidding, a site of one of TS Eliot’s most profound experiences and the inspiration behind his poem of the same name, has appointed a new Dean, Christina Rees CBE. Details of her appointment and her vision for the church’s future are here.
For sale: First Edition of The Waste Land inscribed to TS Eliot’s therapist, February 2016
One of the rare Hogarth Press First Editions of The Waste Land has gone on sale – with the added interest of a dedication from TS Eliot to Dr Roger Vittoz, who ran the private Lausanne clinic where Eliot was treated in 1921. The dedication offers Eliot’s “enduring gratitude”. Read about this unique item in The Guardian. The catalogue price, incidentally, is £95,000.
What Makes Great Detective Fiction, According to TS Eliot, February 2016
The third volume of Eliot’s Complete Prose contains a number of reviews of detective novels which Eliot published, with no byline, in his literary journal The Criterion, in 1927. In an essay in the New Yorker, Paul Grimstad writes that “to Eliot, who in The Waste Land wrote of the fractured modern world as a “heap of broken images,” it seems possible that Golden Age detective stories offered above all a pleasing orderliness—a way of seeing ghastly disruptions restored to equilibrium with the soothing predictability of ritual.” Read more here.
A Different Eliot, New York Review of Books, January 2016
In the New York Review of Books, February 11th issue, Edward Mendelson, Professor of English at Columbia University, writes an essay upon both the Robert Crawford biography, Young Eliot, and The Poems, edited by Ricks and McCue. He considers that the books “make it possible to see more deeply than before into Eliot’s inner life, to perceive its order and complexity in new ways…”
And he writes that “At the heart of his thought and feeling was an unspoken conviction that he, like the society in which he lived, had failed to become what he ought to be, something cohesive and whole, that with all his authority and fame, he lacked a unified personal self.” The article is here.
Christopher Ricks on Prufrock, January 2016
Broadcast on BBC Radio 5 Live on 26th January, Christopher Ricks was interviewed at length in Boston by Rhod Sharp about Eliot’s The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock. Between sections of the poem, this eclectic 50-minute late-night conversation ranges across Eliot’s position on Machiavelli, actors, the brothel world and plagiarism; explores Prufrock’s age and courage; and discusses Eliot’s use of brackets and ellipses, and the endings of his poems. The broadcast is here; the Eliot section begins 02.09.10 into the programme and with a break for news at 02.32.16 runs until 03.00.00.
Thought for the Day on TS Eliot’s Journey, January 2016
Elizabeth Oldfield, Director of the Theos think tank, provided a BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day on 7th January on Eliot’s Journey of the Magi and its significance. Listen here.
Obama as critic of TS Eliot, January 2016
In the New York Review of Books, Edward Mendelson revisits President Obama’s student letter about TS Eliot, and concludes that “it exemplified literary criticism – like Frank Kermode’s – at its best”.
TS Eliot: beyond commentary? a Guardian Books podcast, December 2015
In an extension to his Digested Read of The Poems (see below), John Crace puts the annotated edition through the wringer and, with Robert McCrum, assesses Eliot’s contemporary stature here.
As part of the US promotion of The Poems, Christopher Ricks gives a 45-minute interview to the On Point radio programme about TS Eliot and his works.
Tongues of Fire – essays on word and being in Four Quartets, December 2015
Tongues of Fire – word and being in Four Quartets originated in a series of lectures which Graham Pechey gave in 2013 to the University of the Third Age, Cambridge. “Great works of literature,” he explained, “are best approached not through a paraphrase of their terms and themes but through a minute attention to linguistic particulars combined with a keen sense of the context in which they were written.” This study examines how the smallest and most powerful words in the Four Quartets speak with all the weight of European tradition to a moment of existential threat, and how they continue to resonate today.
Copies of the booklet are available by sending a stamped (£1.19) addressed envelope, large enough for an A5 publication, to the Secretary, 73A Mill Road, Cambridge, CB1 2AW, with a cheque for £5 payable to the TS Eliot Society (UK)
Christmas Day reading from TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, November 2015
78 years after their first BBC Radio broadcast on Christmas Day in 1937, Oscar-winner Jeremy Irons is to read TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats on Christmas Day morning on BBC Radio 4.
Five of the Practical Cats poems were broadcast in 1937 on Christmas Day, read by Geoffrey Tandy on BBC Radio. Irons will re-visit the original five poems along with the further 10 which make up Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats.
Jeremy Irons has previously recorded both The Waste Land and Four Quartets, and has worked again for this reading with producer Sue Roberts.
Alternatively and while available, you can download and keep the reading as a podcast via iTunes through here.
David Jones conference invites Eliot-related contributions, November 2015
Eliot was responsible for publishing David Jones’ In Parenthesis at Faber & Faber in 1937, and over the years, he and Jones became firm friends. In ‘Past and Present’ (1953), David Jones claimed: ‘The entire past is at the poet’s disposal’, and in 1958, Jones made a painted inscription, Nam Sybillam, incorporating lines from The Waste Land, as a gift for his friend.
The conference has issued a call for papers in relation to the thought and works of Jones and his contemporaries; further details of the conference and submission are here.
Signed Eliot books auctioned at Sotheby’s, November 2015
They included a copy of The Family Reunion inscribed to the English critic IA Richards (left) – and a First Edition of The Waste Land, inscribed to novelist and patron Sidney Schiff (“For Sydney Schiff | who (amongst other reasons!) | liked this poem & | was one of the | first to say so. | T.S. Eliot | Jan 1923.”) – which sold for £81,250. The catalogue of images and prices achieved can be seen here.
The identity of ‘Stetson’ and the Society’s Journal, November 2015
An article headlined Who is the mysterious ‘Stetson’ in TS Eliot’s Waste Land? One scholar has a clue… discusses the essay by Ben Liston, published in our Journal of the TS Eliot Society 2015.
Liston’s essay takes an anagrammatic approach to the name. “Encouraged by respected academic Christopher Ricks, who has recently updated his own theories about the poem, Liston put forward his idea to the TS Eliot Society, which has published it.”
The Observer article is here.
Copies of the 2015 Journal are available to non-members by sending a stamped addressed envelope, large enough for an A5 publication, to the Secretary, 73A Mill Road, Cambridge, CB1 2AW, with a cheque for £5 payable to the TS Eliot Society (UK)
The Poems of TS Eliot, October/November 2015
Links to significant reviews of the edition will be updated below as they appear:
“…a blazing demonstration of what literary criticism, at its best, can do for literature.” John Sutherland in the Financial Times
“A monumental achievement” – David Wheatley in The Guardian
“Will repay a lifetime’s reading. They are an absolute pleasure to use” – David Sexton in the Evening Standard
“A magnificent piece of work” – Sean O’Brien in The Independent
“A textual reconstruction of TS Eliot’s brain” – Duncan White in The Telegraph
“A very fine study of the modernist imagination” – Daniel Swift in The Spectator
“A testament to the labour and erudition of both the editors and Eliot himself” – Hugh Foley in The Oxonian Review
“…a loving, generous gift. Here, at last, Eliot’s living poetic imagination can be traced” – Anne Stillman in The Cambridge Humanities Review
Michael O’Loughlin in The Irish Times
Jeremy Noel-Tod in The Sunday Times (subscription required)
Philip Collins in The Times (subscription required)
Lyndall Gordon on the previously unpublished sexual poems, in The New Statesman
Bryan Appleyard of The Sunday Times on TS Eliot, Revolutionary in a Four-Piece Suit, and the Ricks/McCue edition
A ‘digested read’ parody of The Poems and their annotations by John Crace in The Guardian
A report on the British Library event at which Ricks and McCue talked about their work
Christopher Ricks interviewed about the edition, and about Eliot’s greatness – and his “ugly touches” – in Prospect
JimMcCue interviewed about the edition for Foyles
Graphic novel of Prufrock completed, November 2015
The “24-page comic-book adaptation” is the work of Julian Peters, a comic-book artist and illustrator based in Montreal.
You can view the completed work here.
‘Lost’ cat poem by TS Eliot rediscovered, November 2015
Written just six months before his death, a ‘lost’ cat poem by TS Eliot has resurfaced, as part of the research for The Poems (above).
Cumberleylaude, ‘the gourmet cat’, was written after a dinner party in 1965, and sent as a thank-you to the host. The original was auctioned off for charity, but a carbon copy was retained by the Estate and has now been published. Details are here.
TS Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral released for the first time on DVD/Blu-Ray, October 2015
This rarely-seen film features Eliot’s voice, in the role of the (unseen) Fourth Tempter. The full cast and credits are listed on the BFI website here.
This Edition includes the original theatrical version (b/w, 114 mins) in both formats. The DVD also contains alternative and deleted sequences, and footage from the longer festival cut, which is included in its entirety as a Blu-ray exclusive. Full details and pre-ordering are here.
An ArtsDesk article on the making of the film is here.
Members of the Society can get free P&P if they are buying Murder in the Cathedral, and have an opportunity to win a copy in a competition; details in the Members Area of our website.
Eliot rarities in London auction, October 2015
Three Eliot items are to be auctioned at Dreweatts Bloomsbury Auctions on October 22nd.
An intriguing item is a small archive relating to an evening at the Royal Court Theatre on 29th September, 1958, in protest at the BBC’s decision to close the Third Programme. This featured performances of classical music, as well as talks by T.S.Eliot and others. Eliot’s speech was recorded, and this archive includes what appears to be the only known copy of the recording. Full details of the auction are here.
UPDATE: The Hogarth Press First Edition of The Waste Land sold for £1900, while the small archive, with an estimate of £1000-1500, aold for £3200.
Three unpublished erotic poems by Eliot in new collection, September 2015
Fragments have been published of three previously unseen erotic poems by TS Eliot. Addressed to a “Tall Girl”, it is thought they may have been written about Valerie, and released only after her death.
They are to be published in full in The Poems, the forthcoming definitive collection (scroll down for details). The fragments have been published and considered in The Guardian, here.
Eliot’s unpublished essay on AN Whitehead, September 2015
Written for Wyndham Lewis’s The Enemy, the essay focusses on Whitehead’s consideration of the conflict between religion and science, and in particular his use of the term “religion,” which Eliot describes as a “gelded abstraction”. The essay is here.
The essay is taken from Literature, Politics, Belief, 1927–1929, volume 3 of the online edition of The Complete Prose of T.S. Eliot: The Critical Edition. Volume 3 (and Volume 4, English Lion, 1930–1933) will be published later this autumn.
Opening of Burnt Norton features on new Lana Del Rey album, September 2015
The new album Honeymoon by US recording artist Lana Del Rey contains a brief track, Burnt Norton – Interlude, in which she recites the opening of Eliot’s poem to a drifting background wash of sound. You can hear the track here.
The Poems of TS Eliot – the authoritative edition – details announced, August 2015
Details have been released of the long-awaited authoritative edition of The Poems of TS Eliot, edited by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue.
It provides, for the first time, a fully scrutinized text of Eliot’s poems, carefully restoring accidental omissions and removing textual errors that have crept in over the full century in which Eliot has been so frequently printed and reprinted. The edition also presents many poems from Eliot’s youth which were published only decades later, as well as others that saw only private circulation in his lifetime, of which dozens are collected for the first time.
The edition is in two volumes. Volume I – Collected and Uncollected Poems respects Eliot’s decisions by opening with his Collected Poems 1909-1962 in the form in which he issued it, shortly before his death fifty years ago. There follow in this first volume the uncollected poems from his youth that he had chosen to publish, along with such other poems as could be considered suitable for publication.
Volume II – Practical Cats & Further Verses, opens with the two books of poems of other kinds that he issued, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and his translation of Perse’s Anabase, moving then to verses privately circulated as informal or improper or clubmanlike. Each of these sections is accompanied by its respective commentary, and then, pertaining to the entire edition, there is a comprehensive textual history recording variants both manuscript and published.
To accompany Eliot’s poems, Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue have provided a commentary that illuminates the creative activity that came to constitute each poem, calling upon drafts, correspondence and other original materials to provide a vivid account of the poet’s working processes, his reading, his influences and his revisions.
Volume I is 1344 pp; Volume II is 688pp. Each has a cover price of £40, and they are due to be published by Faber on 5th November.
Christopher Ricks and Jim McHugh are discussing The Poems of TS Eliot in a special event at The British Library on Monday 12th October – see our Events page for details.
The Contemporary Novel by TS Eliot, 1926, August 2015
An essay by TS Eliot, previously unpublished in English, has been published by the Times Literary Supplement.
The essay has been released from the forthcoming third volume of Eliot’s Complete Prose; the introduction to the TLS publication explains its history.
The essay itself explores the influence of psychoanalysis on the novel, and looks in particular at the works of four authors: Virginia Woolf, David Garnett, Aldous Huxley, and DH Lawrence – whose novels are described by Eliot as “extremely ill-written”.
“Even if one is not antagonized by the appalling monotony of Mr. Lawrence’s theme, under all its splendid variations,” writes Eliot, “one still turns away with the judgement: ‘this is not my world, either as it is, or as I should wish it to be’.”
The essay as published in the Times Literary Supplement is here.
TS Eliot Prize winner Sean O’Brien writes on The Waste Land, August 2015
“It was difficult, secret, multilingual and non-linear: ergo it was interesting.” Tied to the reissue of the first Boni & Liveright edition of The Waste Land, the poet Sean O’Brien, himself a winner of the TS Eliot Prize, reflects in The Independent upon the impact which the poem had upon him.
Jeremy Irons reads Burnt Norton at Burnt Norton, July 2015
Cotswold Life reports on a fundraising reading of Eliot’s Burnt Norton by Jeremy Irons, in the gardens of Burnt Norton itself. In an interview, Irons talks about both the poem and the place: “I’m imagining TS Eliot walking through that gate, and discerning history beneath his feet; before his eyes.”
Christopher Ricks gives Prufrock centenary lecture at Harvard, June 2015
To mark the 100th anniversary of the poem’s first publication in Poetry magazine, Christopher Ricks gave an idiosyncratic lecture on The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock to an audience at Harvard University.
The lecture refers to other writers and poems published in that issue of Poetry, whose cover can be enlarged by clicking on the image left.
Entitled The Muse in a Psychopathic Ward, you can watch the Ricks lecture here.
Artist Mat Collishaw makes Prufrock film, June 2015
In response to TS Eliot’s The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, a short film has been made by the artist Mat Collishaw. You can view the film on BBC Arts here.
Mat Collishaw is a key figure in the generation of young British artists (YBAs) who emerged from Goldsmith’s College in the 1980s. His biography on his own website is here.
Jeremy Irons reading of Prufrock, followed by discussion, June 2015
On a BBC Radio 4 programme, broadcast 2nd June 2015, Jeremy Irons reads The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock.
The reading is followed by a discussion by poets and critics including Simon Armitage and Professors Sarah Churchwell and Hannah Sullivan.
You can listen to the programme here.
UPDATE: In the New Statesman, Antonia Quirke reviewed the programme and reading, and claimed “TS Eliot has been stolen by actors” – read here.
Rare TS Eliot publications in new Blackwell’s catalogue, June 2015
Blackwell’s Rare Books has announced its second Modernisms catalogue, focusing on literary innovation in the first half of the twentieth century. The catalogue includes some fascinating Eliot rarities, including a copy of the first issue of The Criterion, October 1922, which contained the first ever publication of The Waste Land. (Detail from a previously auctioned copy right.)
The catalogue also includes several Eliot First Editions, including copies of Four Quartets, The Rock, Animula, Sweeney Agonistes, The Sacred Wood and others – along with some signed copies, and an unusual First Edition of the 5-volume, HMV 78rpm recording of Eliot reading Four Quartets.
For a PDF copy of the catalogue click here. ——————————————————————————————————–
Review of The Complete Prose of TS Eliot, Vols I and II, May 2015
A significant review of the first two volumes of Eliot’s Complete Prose, now accessible online, has appeared in the US publication The Hudson Review, focussing on his early philosophical and critical writings. The review can be read here.
Jewel Spears Brooker, one of the Volume Editors on the project, will be talking about the editing and publication of Eliot’s Complete Prose at this year TS Eliot Festival; for more details, scroll down.
Little Gidding appeals for maintenance funds, May 2015
An article in The Observer reports the funds needed to maintain and restore the church which inspired TS Eliot, with quotes from our Society’s Chairman and reference to the forthcoming Festival. Read here.
The Ten Best TS Eliot Poems, May 2015
In this age of “listicles”, it’s perhaps not surprising to find someone listing the ten best Eliot poems – but this someone is Robert Crawford, author of the recent Young Eliot biography, and Professor of Poetry at the University of St Andrews. You can read his choices, and their justifications, in the US magazine Publishers Weekly here.
(Robert Crawford is speaking at this year’s TS Eliot Festival; see below for details.)
TS Eliot Festival at Little Gidding 2015 – details released, March 2015
The Festival commemorates and celebrates the life and work of Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1965). This year – one hundred years after The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock was first published, changing poetry forever – it focuses on the poet’s youth and development, with Robert Crawford, author of the new and acclaimed biography Young Eliot: From St Louis to The Waste Land, and music at teatime from Caprice, playing tunes that Eliot would have heard in his formative period in Paris, 1910.
Lyndall Gordon will give a talk, Footfalls Echo in the Memory: Eliot’s Expatriation; and Jewel Spears Brooker will update us on the online publication of the complete prose Works.
Eliot located the last of his Four Quartets here so it is our custom to give a reading of Little Gidding; and festivalgoers are invited to read their own choices in the popular session My Favourite Eliot.
Join us in the summer garden at Little Gidding, one of the places that inspired Eliot, for a thought-provoking and enjoyable festival day, including refreshments. It will begin with coffee at 10.30am, with the first speaker commencing at 11am, and finish at 5pm.
Booking will open on March 30th via the Oundle Box Office at www.oundlefestival.org.uk or by phone 01832 274734. Note that there is a discount for members of the TS Eliot Society; for details see the Members Area.
Unique TS Eliot First Edition to be auctioned at Bonham’s, February 2015
The book was inscribed to the 8-year old daughter of Eliot’s friend George Blake (1893-1961, Scottish author, journalist and broadcaster).
The estimate is £6000-£8000. Full details are on the Bonham’s website here.
Update: The item sold for £10,000.
Macavity’s Not There: TS Eliot in the 21st Century, February 2015
He may be regarded by some as the most significant poet in the English language over the past 100 years, but how much does Eliot mean to modern readers? In a programme last broadcast in 2009, Michael Alexander explores where Eliot, and poetry in general, stand in national culture.
The programme will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra on February 25th at 06.30, 13.30 and 20.30; and will be available for 30 days after that here.
TS Eliot’s childhood summer home in New Hampshire bought by Eliot estate, February 2015
The Eliot estate has purchased the property at 18 Edgemoor Road, Gloucester, Massachusetts, which was the poet’s childhood summer home. “Not only has the estate bought the house (for $1.3m),” reveals The Guardian. “It plans to use it to promote Eliot’s life and works to his American readers.”
A spokesman for the estate, which is renaming the property Eastern Point, said: “By this time next year we hope to offer up to six poets, essayists or playwrights at a time a peaceful retreat to work on their projects. We’d also like to work with institutions of higher education to make it a centre for weekend symposia on Eliot or on poets and poetry related to him.”
The sale was reported last September (see the News item of that date below for the announcement of the sale, and links to details including a slideshow of the property.)
Professor John Haffenden, who is co-editing the poet’s collected letters, celebrated an important opportunity “to enlarge our sense of the sights and sounds and influences, including the deep feeling for nature, that formed the man and the poet”.
He concluded: “The acquisition and preservation of one of Eliot’s childhood homes will help us to appreciate the poet to the utmost. Eastern Point, at Gloucester, Massachusetts, will spell forever Eliot.”
Hear Jeremy Irons read Four Quartets, February 2015
It is available until 9th March on the BBC iPlayer here.
TS Eliot’s library bequest – catalogue now online, February 2015
The TS & Valerie Eliot Bequest to Magdalene College, Cambridge of the poet’s library has now been catalogued, and the complete list of books can be viewed online.
The College received 368 volumes previously belonging to T.S. Eliot and his wife Valerie in 2013. They can be divided into three main categories:
- Books by T.S.Eliot (including many first editions with dedication inscriptions)
- Translations of T.S.Eliot’s work into other languages (including many first editions with dedication inscriptions. Some of the translations were given to Valerie Eliot by Faber and Faber after T.S. Eliot’s death in 1965).
- Books owned by T.S. Eliot for his personal reading and study (some of which contain marginalia in Eliot’s hand).
The latter category may be of particular interest, revealing Eliot’s additional studies alongside the volumes known to have influenced his work.
The catalogue can be viewed here.
Young Eliot: From St Louis to The Waste Land, January 2015
This “impressive monograph” (The Observer) “traces the life of the twentieth century’s most important poet from his childhood in the ragtime city of St Louis right up to the publication of his most famous poem, The Waste Land.”
The author is Robert Crawford, Professor of Modern Scottish Literature at the University of St Andrews (who will be speaking at the 2015 TS Eliot Festival).
It will be broadcast as the BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week during the week commencing Monday 2nd February.
Reviewed by Ian Thomson in The Independent
Robert McCrum in The Observer
John Sutherland in the Financial Times
Stuart Kelly in The Scotsman
Daniel Swift in The Spectator
Lyndall Gordon in The Telegraph
John Carey in The Sunday Times
Rowan Williams in the New Statesman
Sarah Churchwell in The Guardian
The Economist (anonymous)
Denis Donoghue in the Irish Times
The New York Times
And an entertaining Digested Read of the book by John Crace in The Guardian.
In a short film, the writer Edward Petherbridge looks at 3 Compayne Gardens, West Hampstead, once the home of artist Charles Haigh-Wood, where Eliot and his new bride, the artist’s daughter Vivienne, lived after their marriage.
TS Eliot, Fifty Years On, January 2015
Two newspaper articles examine Eliot and his work fifty years after his death. In The Guardian, Robert Crawford, Professor of Modern Scottish Literature at the University of St Andrews, and author of the new biography Young Eliot (see below) examines “the poet who conquered the world”; while in The Telegraph Allan Massie writes that “[Eliot’s] poetry was as seductive as a mermaid’s singing”
And Robert Crawford and Lyndall Gordon discuss Eliot’s “enduring power and appeal” on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking here.
News from 2014 back to 2012 is archived – click here