After Half A Century…
“He loves me, but not in the way usual to men less gifted…” – Emily Hale.
A lady had handed over 1131 letters to the Library Authorities of the University of Princeton nearly six decades ago on one condition! The condition was that the Library Authorities could publish those letters 50 years after the death of her or the sender (who would die later). While the sender died in 1964, the lady passed away in 1969. So, the University of Princeton unveiled those letters, which were sealed up in a library storage facility, a few days ago. The University said in a statement that those letters could be considered as treasures especially for the students of English Literature, as the sender was the English poet, essayist, playwright, and literary and social critic Thomas Stearns Eliot (September 26, 1888 – January 4, 1965) and the lady was his confidante Emily Hale.
T S Eliot
Some consider Hale not only as the poet’s close friend, but also as his muse. Therefore, researchers are, naturally, interested in the intimate relation between the two. Lifelong friends, Hale and Eliot exchanged letters for about 25 years beginning in 1930 (after they met in 1912 in Cambridge, Massachusetts). However, they did not rekindle their friendship until 1927. Eliot was already living in England and Hale taught drama at US universities. In 1956, Hale donated the letters under the agreement they wouldn’t be opened until 50 years after either her or Eliot’s death, whichever came last…
Emily Hale & Eliot
Anthony Cuda, an Eliot scholar and Director of the T S Eliot International Summer School, has said: “I think it’s perhaps the literary event of the decade. I don’t know of anything more awaited or significant. It’s momentous to have these letters coming out.” He added: “Their relationship must have been incredibly important and their correspondence must have been remarkably intimate for him to be so concerned about the publication.” Frances Dickey, another Eliot scholar, stated: “His relationship with her seems to be deep and meaningful and it’s a door he chose not to open.”
Scholars believe those letters would certainly help them explore not only Eliot’s love life, but also his religious views, views on women, his experience as an employee of some big Publishing Houses and his thoughts about the British culture.
Unfortunately, the world would never get an opportunity to read Hale’s letters (written to Eliot), which had been burnt as per the poet’s order!
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