Virago acquires fresh take on TS Eliot ahead of release of over 1,000 letters

Virago acquires fresh take on TS Eliot ahead of release of over 1,000 letters

Virago is publishing Eliot Among the Women by TS Eliot biographer Lyndall Gordon, a book exploring the impact of the women in Eliot's life on his work following the release of decades-confined correspondence.

Promised to be an "important book" on the poet, whose life and work is believed to have been shaped by four women in particular, it will draw on more than 1,000 letters Eliot wrote to Boston-born teacher of drama, Emily Hale - correspondence that the book's author says is "central to understanding his most private emotion during the decades when his creativity was at its height".

Representing the largest single series of the poet’s correspondence, in January 2020 the 1,131 letters TS Eliot wrote to Hale from 1930 to 1956, housed in 12 boxes at Princeton University Library for over 60 years, will have their steel security bands cut and be opened after decades' confinement.

Whilst these letters will lead the project, his relationships with other women who were close to him - extending also to 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 also be explored in the book.

The book was acquired by Virago chair Lennie Goodings in the UK, where the deal was done by Isobel Dixon of Blake Friedmann and by Norton in the US in a deal arranged by Georges Borchardt.

Publication will be in 2022, the centenary of The Waste Land (Faber). 

Acknowledging Gordon's 40 years experience of writing about Eliot, Goodings commented: "This is the book Lyndall Gordon was born to write; it draws on all her intuitive understanding of this mysterious poet. We are thrilled."