Some 1,131 letters exchanged between T.S. Eliot (1888∼1965), English poet most well known for the phrase “April is the cruelest month” in his work “The Waste Land,” and a female professor presumed to be his love interest, are coming to public light for the first time in 61 years.
According to the Guardian, Princeton University announced Wednesday that it will exhibit the letters that Eliot sent to his confidante and muse Emily Hale (1891~1969) for 26 years at its library. Students, professors, and researchers are all allowed to see the letters, but online access won’t be provided. The letters were kept by Princeton University Library in 12 different boxes. The library staff opened the sealed boxes in October last year and have prepared for an exhibition.
Eliot and his muse met for the first time at Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1912, when Eliot was attending Harvard. The two continued to exchange letters even after Eliot moved to England in 1927. Hailing from Boston, Hale was teaching playwright at a collage in California. Their exchange continued for 26 years between the years of 1930 and 1956, bearing fruit in the form of an exhibition today.
Scholars say that the letters will serve as a research material on identifying their relationship. Some have argued that Eliot and Hale were in a romantic relationship, citing the facts that Eliot was suffering a severe sense of loss following the worsening relationship with his first wife when he began to send letters to Hale, and that the English poet once said to burn away the letters before his second marriage. Eliot was married again in 1957, a year after the exchange of letters came to an end. “The letters will tell us if their relationship was truly a trans-Atlantic romance as it was rumored to be,” said Frances Dickey, an English Professor at the University of Missouri and president of the T. S. Eliot Society.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1888, Eliot is considered as one of the best English poets in the 20th century with his masterpieces such as “The Waste Land” and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” His other work “The Song of the Jellicles” was an inspiration of the musical “Cats.”
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