The Private Letters of T.S. Eliot

There’s a full volume on letters from the great poet T.S. Eliot which will not see the light of day while his widow lives. They may not see any light even after her departure to the afterlife. That’s a fact, not the plot of new mystery novel. Eliot died in 1965, and his wife “has been fiercely protective of his reputation,” according to the Guardian. There is no annointed biographer, and Eliot asked his family to burn many letters.

These letters are apparently the only letters we will see for a while, if ever. From the Guardian:

Karen Christensen, who worked as an assistant to Mrs. Eliot in the 1980s, says that only half the material that was completely ready for publication in 1988 has in fact been published. The years 1922 to 1927, intended as the second volume, have never appeared.

Without the letters, critics [as critics will] have instead mined the poems for evidence, variously detecting homophobic, homoerotic, anti-semitic or just plain misogynist strains.

Ms Christensen writes: “The letters in the second volume were the most moving of all the hundreds I worked on. They catalogue the breakdown of Eliot’s first marriage, the bewilderment and despair of two people who seemed unable to avoid destroying each other … A second volume of letters would do much to reveal what really went on between them and would, I feel sure, create sympathy for Eliot.”

About the author

Jeff Grim

Jeff Grim has been a reader all of his life. He has had a particular interest in military history, any war at any time. His fascination with military history has brought him to an interest in historical fiction where the history comes alive with fictitious heroes and villains. Recently, Jeff has become interested in historical mysteries set in various time periods.

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2 Comments

  • Don’t know if you’re reading comments this far back, but I think it’s interesting that she would be so protective being that she sold Eliot’s poetry out to Andrew Lloyd Webber so many years ago.

  • If I write the post, I can spot the comments. I don’t know if she regrets any past action, but the article says she is protective of the way he is perceived. Maybe she thinks the letters she is withholding are too personal, too transparent, to be released to the world for critique. I assume Eliot thought that himself, since he asked for many of his letters to be burned.

The Private Letters of T.S. Eliot

There’s a full volume on letters from the great poet T.S. Eliot which will not see the light of day while his widow lives. They may not see any light even after her departure to the afterlife. That’s a fact, not the plot of new mystery novel. Eliot died in 1965, and his wife “has been fiercely protective of his reputation,” according to the Guardian. There is no annointed biographer, and Eliot asked his family to burn many letters.

These letters are apparently the only letters we will see for a while, if ever. From the Guardian:

Karen Christensen, who worked as an assistant to Mrs. Eliot in the 1980s, says that only half the material that was completely ready for publication in 1988 has in fact been published. The years 1922 to 1927, intended as the second volume, have never appeared.

Without the letters, critics [as critics will] have instead mined the poems for evidence, variously detecting homophobic, homoerotic, anti-semitic or just plain misogynist strains.

Ms Christensen writes: “The letters in the second volume were the most moving of all the hundreds I worked on. They catalogue the breakdown of Eliot’s first marriage, the bewilderment and despair of two people who seemed unable to avoid destroying each other … A second volume of letters would do much to reveal what really went on between them and would, I feel sure, create sympathy for Eliot.”

About the author

Jeff Grim

Jeff Grim has been a reader all of his life. He has had a particular interest in military history, any war at any time. His fascination with military history has brought him to an interest in historical fiction where the history comes alive with fictitious heroes and villains. Recently, Jeff has become interested in historical mysteries set in various time periods.

View all posts

2 Comments

  • Don’t know if you’re reading comments this far back, but I think it’s interesting that she would be so protective being that she sold Eliot’s poetry out to Andrew Lloyd Webber so many years ago.

  • If I write the post, I can spot the comments. I don’t know if she regrets any past action, but the article says she is protective of the way he is perceived. Maybe she thinks the letters she is withholding are too personal, too transparent, to be released to the world for critique. I assume Eliot thought that himself, since he asked for many of his letters to be burned.