Eliot sheds his 'usually reticent self' and the 'hilarious bleakness' he feels in wartime London to compose these entertaining and revealing letters - the latest in this exemplary series.
This volume covers the production of Eliot's play The Family Reunion; the publication of The Idea of a Christian Society; and the joyous versifying of Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. After exhausting himself through nights of fire-watching in the London wartime blackout, he travels the country, attends meetings of The Moot, delivers talks, and advises a fresh generation of writers including Cyril Connolly, Keith Douglas, Kathleen Raine and Vernon Watkins. Major correspondents include W. H. Auden, George Barker, William Empson, Geoffrey Faber, John Hayward, James Laughlin, Hope Mirrlees, Mervyn Peake, Ezra Pound, Michael Roberts, Stephen Spender, Tambimuttu, Allen Tate, Michael Tippett, Charles Williams and Virginia Woolf. Four Quartets, Eliot's culminating masterpiece, is discussed in detail.
Valerie Eliot, the poet's widow, died in 2012. She won the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize for T. S. Eliot: The Waste Land, a Facsimile & Transcripts of the Original Drafts (1971) and The Letters of T. S. Eliot, Volume 1 (1988).
John Haffenden is Senior Research Fellow, Institute of English Studies, University of London. His publications include a biography of John Berryman; editions of the works of William Empson including the Complete Poems (2000); and an award-winning two-volume biography of Empson (2005, 2006).
Literature & literary studies
Literary studies: poetry & poets