London Library member and T.S. Eliot biographer Professor Robert Crawford gives the London Library Lecture at Hay on Sunday 31 May and will be looking at T.S. Eliot and his relationship with the Library as well as exploring the links between poets and libraries more generally. Miranda Richardson is opening proceedings with readings from some of Eliot’s poems.
Eliot joined the London Library in 1918, four years after The Waste Land was published, and became its President in 1952, serving until his death in 1965. The Waste Land first appeared in the inaugural issue of The Criterion, a quarterly journal Eliot launched in October 1922 in the wake of the First World War and which he edited for 17 years. Fellow London Library members appeared in the first issue. Virginia Woolf appears as a translator of Dostoyevsky’s “Plan of a Novel” and May Sinclair was commissioned by Eliot for her short story “The Victim”. The Criterion was published by R. Cobden-Sanderson, also a London Library member of long-standing, who donated over thirty Doves Press books to the Library with the phrase “as to an old friend, from an old member.”
Twenty six years after The Waste Land, Eliot was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for Four Quartets. Burnt Norton, East Coker, The Dry Salvages and Little Gidding were published by Faber and Faber as individual works between 1936 and 1942 and then collectively as Four Quartets in 1943. The Library has first editions of East Coker, The Dry Salvages and Little Gidding, all published during the course of the Second World War.
Helen O’Neill, Archive, Heritage & Development Librarian