The President, trustees, members and staff of The London Library heard with great sadness of the death of Mrs Valerie Eliot last Friday, 9 November 2012.
Mrs Eliot had been a Vice-President of the Library since 2009, and through Old Possum’s Practical Trust was one of the Library’s most generous benefactors, providing funds for the purchase and redevelopment of our newest wing, T.S. Eliot House.
Mrs Eliot was present at the building’s naming on 11 June 2008, where actress Fiona Shaw read T.S. Eliot’s moving poem for Valerie, ‘A Dedication to My Wife.’
The Library’s President, Sir Tom Stoppard, said: “Valerie brought unprecedented and long-awaited happiness to her husband, to whom she was passionately devoted. During the long decades of her widowhood, she was equally devoted to her custodianship of his remarkable work. Her passing severs a vital link with our literary past. The London Library will continue to preserve the memories of both T.S. and Valerie Eliot, whose generosity, advocacy and leadership are part of the fabric of this great institution.”
T.S. Eliot was President of The London Library from 1952 to his death in 1965.
On assuming the office of President, he delivered an address at the Library’s Annual General Meeting in which he declared that ‘if this library disappeared, it would be a disaster to the world of letters, and would leave a vacancy that no other form of library could fill.’
A portrait of Mrs Valerie Eliot by Emma Sargeant hangs in The London Library, adjacent to the entrance to T.S. Eliot House.
The Library extends its condolences to Mrs Eliot’s family, to the staff and trustees of Old Possum’s Practical Trust, and to who all who knew and worked with Mrs Eliot.