It was in 1973, during a production of The Family Reunion at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, that Edward Fox was first properly introduced to Four Quartets by the director Michael Elliott. On the Sunday evenings during the play’s run, Elliott, Fox and his co-stars Joanna David and Avril Elgar, presented a number of what were called ‘fit-up’ stagings of Eliot’s poem. “At the time, I didn’t understand a word of it,” he recalls.
Over subsequent years Fox read and studied the poem – “It’s one of those pieces that demand you know it by heart to really understand it. You don’t really know it until you’ve learned it backwards” – performing it in the West End in 1980 in a production of Eliot’s poetry titled Let Us Go Then, You and I, with Michael Gough and Eileen Atkins. Having committed the whole poem permanently to memory, he toured his reading of it throughout the UK in the mid-2000s, last performing it at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith in 2011. This audio recording was also performed from memory and the Trustees of the Eliot Estate are delighted to make it available to mark T. S. Eliot’s birthday.
Edward Fox OBE is perhaps best known, in his film and television work, for his lead role in The Day of the Jackal, his BAFTA-winning role in The Go-Between, his work in Gandhi and A Bridge Too Far, and as Edward VIII in Edward & Mrs Simpson. Most recently on stage, he has performed with his son Freddie Fox in An Ideal Husband at the Vaudeville Theatre, 2018.
Listen to the recording here.