When Tim, Jacqui & Jennifer are touring, I like to deep dive into my favorite Princeton characters ….
I love to deep dive into my favorite Princeton characters ….. the last few days has been T.S. Eliot whose love (or lack thereof) life has always fascinated me.
With his first wife, Vivienne, T.S. experienced an unhappy marriage and she suffered from terrible mental illness. He moved to the US and left her in England which drove her to a stalker status to try and talk to him. It got so bad he eventually committed her to a mental asylum against her will only to visit her once in 15 years and that was just to tell her he wanted a separation! (I mean, I GET that she was A LOT … Virginia Woolf described her as “Oh – Vivienne! Was there ever such a torture since life began! – to bear her on one’s shoulders, biting, wriggling, raving, scratching, unwholesome, powdered, insane, yet sane to the point of insanity, reading his letters, thrusting herself on us, coming in wavering trembling … This bag of ferrets is what Tom [Eliot] wears round his neck.” (Prior to her break down, she was described as a stunningly brave fashionista, preferring bright decor in her home and selected unique robes and layers of interesting fabrics as her wardrobe. Anyhoo ….. you’re not going to write pieces like “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, “Wasteland” and “The Cocktail Party” if you’ve only experienced awesome relationships, right? )
For over 30 yrs, his best friend, secret love and confidant was Emily Hale. They discretely wrote to one another intimate details of their lives and intimate thoughts…. keep reading she is the hero of the story….
Over time, Eliot added another love interest in an Englishwoman named Mary Trevelyan. Their relationship, was not sexual, in fact, Eliot made it a rule that they could not dine together on consecutive nights to avoid the appearance of a committed relationship. They were friends for twenty years and she proposed three times!!!! Eliot never accepted or entertained the offers. (I would have loved to be with Mary on that last proposal request. (I would have been that supportive friend that said, “Don’t they say third times a charm or something?” Then, we she would return to tell me he said “No” AGAIN I’d help shred him with her.)
DON’T GIVE UP! IT GETS BETTER! So out of the blue, when Eliot was 68, he married his 30yr old secretary named Esme Valerie Fletcher in a secret chapel service at 6:15a with only the bride’s parents there.
T.S. Eliot clearly wanted his private life to remain XXXtra private so he destroyed the thousands letters Emily Hale had sent to him but Emily kept the letters he wrote her and gifted them to none other than Princeton University. She knew he was too beautifully complicated to not be able to allow scholars to research his inner most thoughts.
The secret letters have been sealed for the required 25 years but on October 12, 2019 the University can open them …. YOU CAN BET I WILL BE READING THE DAILY PRINCE THE MORNING OF OCTOBER 13TH! I’M SURE THEIR COVERAGE WILL FILL IN SOME OF THE MISSING PIECES TO THIS COMPELLING CHARACTER THAT DEFINED THE ART OF POETRY!