Sorry, this should have been sent a month ago. It deals with the
auction already mentioned and held but it does mention a bit about
how Eliot responded to the death of Virginia Woolf and his his own
The story and an image of a sketch by Eliot is at:
T.S. Eliot letters up for auction
Friday August 12, 2005
Letters in which TS Eliot discloses himself as a man both haunted and
magically tender-hearted are to be auctioned in London. In the most
striking, the poet goes further than in almost anything he wrote in
betraying the torment he felt over his marriage to his first wife,
Vivien, whom he had committed to a mental hospital.
The morning after hearing of her death in January 1947, he wrote to a
"You will not know how helpful it was to me to dine with you last
night. I am going through an infernal passage which, like all
infernos, is incommunicable, though perhaps some of it may be
explainable at a late time, and any support from the few friends upon
whom one can lean is a great help".
Yesterday the auction house Bonhams called the letter remarkable: "For
a man who wore many masks during his lifetime, this correspondence
reveals aspects of his character previously hidden."
The letter, to be sold on September 10, was to Enid Faber, wife of
Eliot's publishing colleague, Geoffrey Faber. Other letters show that
she comforted him by being one of the few to attend Vivien's lonely
funeral - and that he countermanded Vivien's intention that Geoffrey
Faber should be appointed an executive to her will.
After he died in 1965, Eliot was increasingly blamed for causing, or
contributing to, Vivien's mental instability - a theme of the play and
film, Tom and Viv, written by Michael Hastings, and of a number of
At the time they married, in 1917, she had been acknowledged as a
woman of high talent, believed to have contributed to The Waste Land,
and to others of his poems. They separated, though she pressed
continually for a reconciliation until, in 1938, she was
committed. Other letters from their relationship have yet to be
Of Virginia Woolf's death in 1941, Eliot wrote to Enid: "She was a
personal friend who seemed to be ... like a member of my own family;
and I miss her dreadfully. But ... my admiration for the idea of her
milieu - now rather old fashioned - is decidedly qualified."
However, according to Felix Pryor, Bonhams' manuscript consultant,
beside this dig at the novelist others of the letters are "tremendous
fun". For the third birthday of Enid's son, Tom, to whom Eliot was
godfather, he introduced his cat verses by writing of one feline: "Its
Name is JELLYORUM and its one Idea is to be Usefull!! For Instance It
Straightens The Pictures - It Does The Grates - Looks Into the Larder
To See What's Needed." Then he sent an invitation to Tom's fourth
birthday party: "Pollicle Dogs and Jellicle Cats!/Come from your
Kennels & Houses & Flats ... " This later inspired a chorus in the hit
"Rickard A. Parker" wrote:
> Sep 20, 2005 - LONDON (Reuters) - A series of largely unpublished
> letters from T.S. Eliot and a first edition of The Waste Land poem
> inscribed by the author sold for nearly $438,000 at auction on
> The lots included sets of letters from Eliot to his godson Tom Faber
> and Tom's mother Enid. Tom Faber, who died in 2004, was Eliot's first
> godchild and the son of his friend and publisher Geoffrey Faber.
> A series of 50 typed letters sent to Tom were signed "Uncle Tom" and
> revealed a humorous side to the poet.
> In one letter he wrote "I should like to put you in touch with Mr
> Mandlebaum of New York, who is writing a thesis on the Dynamics of
> Audience-Response to the Cocktail Party. This is called Sociology and
> is an American disease."
> The sale included a first edition of Eliot's classic poem The Waste
> Land, inscribed by the poet, sold for 32,400 pounds. With the letters
> and other inscribed first editions the collections totaled 242,652
> American-born Thomas Stearns Eliot spent much of his life in Britain
> as a poet, playwright and publisher with an austere reputation, based
> on his royalist, conservative, High Anglican church views.
> Born in St Louis, Missouri, in 1888, Eliot moved to London in 1914,
> where he worked as a teacher and a bank clerk. He died in 1965.
> Apart from his modernist poems, he published "Old Possum's Book of
> Practical Cats," a children's work on which Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit
> musical "Cats" is based.