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T.S. Eliot Collection (MSS153)

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T.S. Eliot Collection (MSS153), 1928-1963 | MSS Manuscripts

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Collection Overview

Title: T.S. Eliot Collection (MSS153), 1928-1963Add to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1928-1963

ID: MSS/MSS/153

Primary Creator: Eliot, T.S. (1888-1965)

Extent: 28.0 Items

Date Acquired: 06/26/1970

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The T.S. Eliot Collection includes revised copy of T. S. Eliot's Collected Poems, 1909-1935, with corrections and annotations in the author's hand, undertaken in preparation for a new edition. Also included is a typescript of section titled Occasional Verses, which was added to the original edition. These poems include "Defense of the islands," "A Note on War Poetry," "For the Indian Soldiers [sic] Who Died in Africa," "To Walter De La Mare", and "A Dedication to My Wife". Also typescript of author's notes to accompany the poems, and an autograph list of Eliot poems, possibly in preparation for a reading.

Also includes five letters from Eliot to Collin and Lillian Brooks; Collin Brooks, editor of conservative publication Truth, was a close friend and ideological bosom-buddy of Eliot. Also includes five letters and one telegram from Eliot’s wife, Valerie Eliot, to Collin and Lillian. The letters in total track the genesis of Eliot’s relationship with Valerie, and his emotional state at the time, in uncharacteristically expressive and candid fashion.

Through both Eliot and Valerie’s letters to Collin and Lillian, we see the slow build of Eliot and Valerie’s acquaintanceship. First, they are introduced by way of an inscribed book sent through Collin, then Collin recommends Valerie to the post of Eliot’s secretary at Faber, where their relationship flowered. Eliot regards the relevance of Collin and Valerie to his life in near-mystical terms, as he relates to Lillian after Collin’s death: “there was a destiny in our relations, active from the moment he told Valerie of the vacancy at Faber, and urged her to apply for it. And before that, when he got me to autograph my book for an unknown young lady.” Eliot’s unusually vulnerable reflections are a product of his tight association with Collin; he writes at one point of Valerie after they were recently joined, “I am radiantly happy and at the same time overawed by the thought of my new responsibility for another’s happiness.” Valerie’s letters also provide lesser-seen insights into Eliot’s unguarded persona, such as when she asks the Brooks to invite Eliot over in her absence as he, alone, “may give way to depression.”

Collection Historical Note

Thomas Stearns Eliot (September 26, 1888 – January 4, 1965) was a publisher, playwright, literary and social.  Although he was born an American, he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 and was naturalized as a British subject in 1927.  The poem that made his name, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock—started in 1910 and published in Chicago in 1915—is seen as a masterpiece of the Modernist movement, and was followed by some of the best-known poems in the English language, including Gerontion (1920), The Waste Land (1922), The Hollow Men (1925), Ash Wednesday (1930), and Four Quartets (1945). He is also known for his seven plays, particularly Murder in the Cathedral (1935). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948.

For a poet of his stature, Eliot produced a relatively small amount of poetry and he was aware of this early in his career. Typically, Eliot first published his poems individually in periodicals or in small books or pamphlets, and then collected them in books. His first collection was Prufrock and Other Observations (1917). In 1920, he published more poems in Ara Vos Prec (London) and Poems: 1920 (New York). These had the same poems (in a different order) except that "Ode" in the British edition was replaced with "Hysteria" in the American edition. In 1925, he collected The Waste Land and the poems in Prufrock and Poems into one volume and added The Hollow Men to form Poems: 1909–1925. From then on, he updated this work as Collected Poems. Exceptions are Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939), a collection of light verse; Poems Written in Early Youth, posthumously published in 1967 and consisting mainly of poems published between 1907 and 1910 in The Harvard Advocate, and Inventions of the March Hare: Poems 1909–1917, material Eliot never intended to have published, which appeared posthumously in 1997.

Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri. From 1898 to 1905, Eliot attended Smith Academy, where his studies included Latin, Ancient Greek, French, and German. He began to write poetry when he was fourteen under the influence of Edward Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a translation of the poetry of Omar Khayyam. His first poem published, "A Fable For Feasters," was written as a school exercise and was published in the Smith Academy Record in February 1905. Also published there in April 1905 was his oldest surviving poem in manuscript, an untitled lyric, later revised and reprinted as "Song" in The Harvard Advocate, Harvard University's student magazine.

After graduation, Eliot attended Milton Academy in Massachusetts for a preparatory year, where he met Scofield Thayer, who would later publish The Waste Land. He studied philosophy at Harvard from 1906 to 1909, earning his bachelor's degree after three years. After working as a philosophy assistant at Harvard from 1909 to 1910, Eliot moved to Paris, where from 1910 to 1911, he studied philosophy at the Sorbonne. From 1911 to 1914, he was back at Harvard studying Indian philosophy and Sanskrit. Eliot was awarded a scholarship to Merton College, Oxford in 1914. He first visited Marburg, Germany, where he planned to take a summer program, but when the World War I broke out, he went to Oxford instead. Eliot did not settle at Merton, and left after a year. In 1915, he taught English at Birkbeck, University of London.  By 1916, he had completed a doctoral dissertation for Harvard on Knowledge and Experience in the Philosophy of F. H. Bradley, but he failed to return for the viva voce exam. After leaving Merton, Eliot worked as a schoolteacher, most notably at Highgate School, a private school in London, where he taught French and Latin.  Later he taught at the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe. To earn extra money, he wrote book reviews and lectured at evening extension courses. In 1917, he took a position at Lloyds Bank in London, working on foreign accounts. In 1925, Eliot left Lloyds to join the publishing firm Faber and Gwyer, later Faber and Faber, where he remained for the rest of his career, eventually becoming a director.

Administrative Information

Repository: MSS Manuscripts

Access Restrictions: Open

Use Restrictions:

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or spec@wumail.wustl.edu. (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)

Acquisition Source: Purchase

Acquisition Method:

Accession number 1204, 1970: June 26. Purchased from Bertram Rota Ltd Booksellers

Accession number 2014.010, 2014: April 15. Purchased from Glenn Horowitz Booksellers

Accession number MSS2016-008, 2016: April 18. Purchased from Glenn Horowitz Booksellers

Accession number MSS2016-028, 2016: December 12. Purchased from Glenn Horowitz Booksellers

Separated Materials:

Collected Poems, 1909-1935 by T.S. Eliot. London : Faber and Faber, [1954].

PS3509 L43 A17 1954

Preferred Citation: Name of the Collection, Washington University Libraries, Department of Special Collections

Processing Information: Processed July 1970 by Holly Hall

Other Note: Collected Poems, 1909-1935 by T.S. Eliot transferred to Rare Books. PS3509 L43 A17 1954


Box and Folder Listing


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Series 2: ManuscriptsAdd to your cart.
Folder 2Add to your cart.
Item 1: Autograph lists [two] of Eliot poems, some with page numbers (?) indicatedAdd to your cart.
One set numbered 1 - 7, some with two or more poems grouped under one number. Two poems crossed out, one with question mark. Unidentified initials [M.I.T.?] at head of list. At foot of sheet, upside down and crossed out reads `Poetry Center 25.11.61.' Verso. List in pencil; varies slightly from first list. Some titles unidentified. Heading reads [Boston Coll.?] Lists apparently not connected to book or other typescripts. Possibly prepared in preparation for a reading. Ink and pencil, 2 pages
Item 2: Publications lists of Eliot's complete works, 1963: January 3Add to your cart.
Typescript heading notes Collected Poems, 1909 - 1962 [corrected in pencil from 1960].  Upper left corner reads Mr. Bland.  Manuscript notation in right corner `As knowledge and experience' in Eliot's hand, and manuscript paging note. Lower left corner reads, JL/ab. Unidentified printer's note. [Does not correspond with published version] The following is a setting copy for Occasional Verses for the new edition of Collected Poems, 1909-1962. Textual comparison is with the American edition by Harcourt, Brace, 1963, 1963: January 3]. Ink and pencil, 1 page
Item 3: Typescript and typescript [carbon] author's notesAdd to your cart.
To accompany Occasional Verses in the new edition, not including Dedication to my wife. States origin of poems; slight corrections in ink; pencil printer's marks. Note in Eliot's hand read `Each of the above notes to precede the verses attached.' Carbon unmarked.  2 pages
Item 4: Typescript and typescript [carbon] of Defense of the Islands, 1940: June 9Add to your cart.
One correction, line 22. Text corresponds. Written [in the author's hand] June 9th, 1940 in several places; all crossed out. T.S. Eliot also crossed out. Printer's marks. Carbon has no marks.  2 pages
Item 5: Typescript and typescript [carbon] of A Note On War Poetry, 1942Add to your cart.
Date crossed out. Copy marked #2. Printer's page mark. Carbon has no marks. Text corresponds.  2 pages
Item 6: Typescript of To the Indians Who Died in Africa, 1943Add to your cart.
Date is erased. Copy is marked #3. Note, author's title is For the Indian Soldiers Who Died in Africa. Printer's page mark. Author's notes uses published title. One substantive change, line 21.  1 page
Item 7: Typescript and typescript [carbon] of To Walter De La Mare, 1948Add to your cart.
Date is erased. Copy is marked #4. Printer's page marks. Text corresponds. No corrections. Carbon has no marks.  2 pages
Item 8: Typescript and typescript [carbon] of A Dedication to My WifeAdd to your cart.
Printer's page marks. Accidental correction, line 10. Text corresponds. Carbon has no marks.  2 pages
Item 9: Typescript [carbon] review of Lytton Strachey's Elizabeth and Essex: A Tragic History, 1928Add to your cart.
Final typescript, 7 pages with a small number of pencil corrections in Eliot's hand. Eliot's favorable analysis of Elizabeth and Essex was published anonymously in the Time Literary Supplement in December 1928
Item 10: Collected Poems, 1909-1935, Faber and Faber, 1954, fifteenth impression, 1963Add to your cart.
Corrected and revised by the author, in preparation for new edition. Following is a notation of the changes. Textual comparisons refer to the American edition of Collected Poems, by Harcourt, Brace, 1963. Front matter. Front fly-leaf reads `This copy to be used in preparing next edition. Return to T.S.E.' Publication list notes ‘See new copy'...[  ].  Title page with correction reads Collected Poems 1909 - 1935 62 by T.S. Eliot London Faber & Faber Limited, 24 Russell Square. Copyright and printing history is crossed out, which included written notice of Sixteenth impression MCMl[iv]. Table of Contents notes `Reader to check the page nos - will be 2 on [foot note?]' Ariel Poems - dates have been added after each title, and Cultivation of Christmas Trees - 1954 has been included in this section.  Unfinished poems. Date 1931 has been added to Triumphal March. Minor Poems. Five finger exercises III changes title to Lines to a Duck in the Park. Choruses from `The Rock' adds date 1934. All of Four Quartets included, and Occasional Verses compose the final sections. Titles and dates written in. Revisions occur on the following pages: 9, 11, 12, 13, 20, 21, 28, 37, 38, 41, 62, 63, 64, 68, 75, 79, 80, 83, 84, 100, 107, 129, 147, 152, 153 of which the following are substantive: 9, 28, 79, 80, 83, 84, 100. Notations occur on the following: 31, 114, 183. Page 183 notes `Here take in the Four Quartets (set from file copy herewith, and [  ] as [  ] dummy herewith)' Back fly-leaf notes `Take in Four Quartets on p. 195 followed by Occasional Verses.'  Paging is corrected, in anticipation of additions, beginning p. 114.  Transferred to Rare Books (PS3509 L43 A17 1954).  101 pages, 8 x 5 1/2"

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