Valerie Eliot

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Esme Valerie Eliot (née Fletcher; 17 August 1926 – 9 November 2012) was the second wife and later widow of the Nobel prize-winning poet, T. S. Eliot. She was a major stockholder in the publishing firm of Faber and Faber Limited and the editor and annotator of a number of books dealing with her late husband's writings.

Life[edit]

Valerie Fletcher, a native of Leeds, married Eliot, almost 38 years her senior, on 10 January 1957.[1] She had first met Eliot in August 1949 while working as a secretary at Faber & Faber.[2] She was a star-struck fan at first, having admired Eliot's writing since her teenage years. In a 1994 interview with The Independent newspaper she recalled a very ordinary home life of evenings spent at home playing Scrabble and eating cheese, stating "He obviously needed a happy marriage. He wouldn't die until he'd had it."[2]

Following T. S. Eliot's 1965 death, Valerie Eliot was his most important editor and literary executor, having brought to press The Waste Land: Facsimile and Manuscripts of the Original Drafts (1971) and The Letters of T. S. Eliot: Volume 1, 1898-1922 (1989). She assisted Christopher Ricks with his edition of The Inventions of the March Hare (1996), a volume of Eliot's unpublished verse. A second volume of T. S. Eliot's letters was edited by his widow and long-delayed.[3]

One of Valerie Eliot's most lucrative decisions as executor was granting permission for a stage musical to be based on her husband's work Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. This became the hit Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats.[2] With her portion of the proceeds Valerie Eliot established "Old Possum's Practical Trust" – a literary registered charity[4] – and funded the T. S. Eliot Prize.[2]

In late 2009, the second volume of Eliot's letters was published. The third volume, edited by Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden, followed in July 2012. She donated the £15,000 annual prize money for the T. S. Eliot Prize.[citation needed]

Valerie Eliot died on 9 November 2012 at her home in London.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Esty, Jed (2002). "Modern American Poetry: An Online Journal and Multimedia Companion to Anthology of Modern American Poetry". Oxford University Press, 2000, accessed 20 January 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d Lawless, Jill (11 November 2012). "T.S. Eliot's widow Valerie Eliot dies at 86". Associated Press via Yahoo News. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Christensen, Karen. "Dear Mrs Eliot...", The Guardian, 29 January 2005.
  4. ^ OLD POSSUM'S PRACTICAL TRUST, Registered Charity no. 328558 at the Charity Commission
  5. ^ "Valerie Eliot, Poet’s Wife and Defender, Dies at 86", New York Times, 2012/11/13. Retrieved 2012/11/13.

External links[edit]