[35 School St., Andover, Mass.]

T. S.Eliot
19 Carlyle Mansions
25 February 1951
Dearest Emily

I go tomorrow to the London Clinic, Devonshire Place W.1. (where I have been before) and have the small operation on Wednesday. I am to be there for two weeks, but this is merely an extra precaution, on account of the season, the weather, and the prevalent influenza. After the first few days, I ought to be able to take it as a kind of rest.

My ‘bronches’ are now in pretty good condition. ButMme Amery;a3 the housekeeper has been down with bronchitis, andHayward, John;n7 before she had recovered John caught influenza, and for two days we had both of them in bed at once. When I say ‘we’ I mean really our good charwoman Mrs. Back, who has always been dependable in an emergency, and at considerable inconvenience to herself. There has been very little that I could do for either of them, and it is perhaps going to be easier with me away.

I hope that the New England winter has not brought such epidemics with it as we have had here. I have heard no reports of the weather, so suppose that it has not yet been really severe. An'Journey of the Magi'teacher dismissed for reading;a5 odd story got into some of the London papers about a schoolmaster in Brookline who had been dismissed for reading ‘Journey of the Magi’ to his class.1 But the Headmistress has now explained; and I suspect that she was quite in the right over it: and the class was supposed to be learning Business Correspondence!

I shall tell John to forward any correspondence that comes here; and after the first week I shall have my secretary come in for letters. I may scrawl a line from there, but I am a very brief correspondent indeed when I cannot have a typewriter.

With much love

1.‘Teacher sacked for reading T. S. Eliot’, Daily Express, 16 Feb. 1951, 1: ‘While Thomas Stearns Eliot, holder of a Nobel Prize for Literature, dined with the King last night – a judge was deciding whether his poetry is profane.

‘Near Harvard University, where TSE was student and professor, a schoolmaster has been dismissed from a fashionable girls’ school for reciting Eliot’s poetry.

‘The teacher, 6ft., 31-year-old John Galt, read Eliot’s 43-line poem, “Journey of the Magi,” Ezra Pound’s 13-line parody poem “Ancient Music,” and a letter from Mark Twain to the New York Times.

‘At that point, he told a Boston court yesterday, the principal sacked him, saying: “The things you read were profane.”

‘Galt claimed 900 dollars (£320) damages from the Kathleen Dell School, a finishing school for girls of 15 to 19, in the wealthy Boston suburb of Brookline.

‘He is an ex-fighter pilot with a Master of Arts degree who was engaged last autumn to teach English grammar for a term. He went after three weeks.

‘Two 19-year-old girls at the school gave evidence. Said Barbara Mills, president of the senior class: “I was dumbfounded and offended at the readings. Of the 60 girls who heard the poems, all but six felt as I did.”

‘Said Kathleen Flannery: “I was humiliated.”

‘Lawyer Charles Nayor, for the school, said: “This should be a case of the school suing the plaintiff for introducing this profane material. He has done irreparable harm to the morals of the girls and the reputation of the school.

‘“This nasty little boy needs to have his mouth washed out with soap.”

‘Lawyer Calvin Bartlett, for Galt, said: “Are these girls so sheltered that T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Mark Twain, and other literary giants must be kept out of their classroom?

‘“Is the law going to make this plaintiff an outcast, merely because he reads T. S. Eliot in his classes? The school was capricious, arbitrary, and vicious in discharging him.”

‘Judge Davis Kiniston reserved his decision.

‘Galt had this to say: “Eliot’s ‘Journey of the Magi’ I consider one of the greatest religious poems ever written. I’ve taken it apart since then and just can’t find any obscenity or profanity in it.

‘Ezra Pound’s “Ancient Music” is a parody on the 13th century classic “Sumer is icumen in,” and has the word “Goddamm.” Mark Twain, in his letter, also uses that word.

‘When someone has read Eliot and is accused of obscenity, it’s time to go to court to establish professional standards.

‘I don’t care about the money involved in the suit. I’m striking a blow for all teachers of English literature.

‘T. S. Eliot was among 24 leading personalities in the world of the arts who sat down last night in Burlington House to dine with the King, the Queen, and Princess Margaret. The host was Sir Gerald Kelly, President of the Royal Academy.

‘Later Eliot was told of the Brookline case, and said: “Oh dear, oh dear, this is most benighted.•

‘“Really, I am sorry if any young lady felt humiliated on hearing my poems. I have never yet met any 19-year-old lady or young man who expressed humiliation on hearing my poems.

‘“Perhaps we must wait for Christianity to reach Brookline.

‘“All of my poems, if read intelligently, are edifying. But I do not know how the poem was read.”

‘Eliot, who holds the coveted Order of Merit, is regarded on both sides of the Atlantic – he was born in America, naturalised in Britain – as a poet of genius.

‘His difficult and often obscure works, such as “The Waste Land,” greatly influenced the course of poetry and the minds of younger poets. He is 62 – and the director of a publishing firm.

‘His play “The Cocktail Party” was a West End success until it came off last week.’

‘• BENIGHTED – involved in intellectual or moral darkness.’

TSE to Margot Coker, 16 February (1951): ‘A schoolmaster in Brookline Mass. has been sacked for reading my Journey of the Magi to a girls’ school. The head girl (aged 19) is reported to have said that she was “humiliated” (by having to listen to the poem). This was in the Daily Express, but I am trying to get a fuller report from the U.S.A.’

Hayward, John, in TSE's thumbnail description, his condition and character, what TSE represents to, VHE complains about TSE to, TSE's new chess-playing neighbour, meets EH over tea, hosts TSE, GCF and de la Mare, on EH, on EH (to TSE), gives TSE cigars for Christmas, calls EH TSE's 'sister', and the Dobrées on Boxing Day, and TSE play a prank on guests, backstage at The Times, taken for walk, on Jenny de Margerie, Empson, TSE and Sansoms call on, evening with Spender, Jennings and, exchanges Christmas presents with TSE, exchanges rare books with TSE, sends luxuries to convalescent TSE, TSE's only regular acquaintance, dines with TSE and Camerons, lent Williams's Cranmer, accompanied to the Fabers' party, hosts discussion about Parisian Murder, inspects French translation of Murder, and TSE's Old Buffers' Dinner, gives TSE bath-mitts, given wine for Christmas, one of TSE's dependents, at Savile Club Murder dinner, Empson takes TSE on to see, possible housemate, in second line of play-readers, walked round Earl's Court, and Bradfield Greek play, and TSE drive to Tandys, and TSE give another party, corrects TSE's Anabase translation, watches television with TSE, Christmas Day with, introduced to Djuna Barnes, meets Christina Morley, walk round Brompton Cemetery with, Hyde Park excursion with, moving house, at his birthday-party, honoured at F&F, displaced to the Rothschilds, where TSE visits him, among TSE's closest friends, his conversation missed, the prospect of Christmas without, excursions to Cambridge to visit, 'my best critic', gives TSE American toilet-paper, helps TSE finish Little Gidding, possible post-war housemate, protector of TSE's literary remains, foreseeably at Merton Hall, discusses plays with TSE, flat-hunting with, and Carlyle Mansions, his furniture, installed at Carlyle Mansions, further handicapped without telephone, undermines TSE's aura of poetic facility, irritates except in small doses, helps with adjustment of TSE's OM medal, at the Brighton Cocktail Party, hounded by Time, quid pro quo with TSE, arranges first-night party for Cocktail Party, arranges Confidential Clerk cast dinner, and TSE's Selected Prose, and TSE entertained by Yehudi Menuhin,

11.JohnHayward, John Davy Hayward (1905–65), editor and critic: see Biographical Register.

'Journey of the Magi', inscribed to EH in 1927, admired by EH, EH reads to students, teacher dismissed for reading,
Mme Amery, tolerates TSE's lie-abed ways,

1.MadameMme Amery Amery: housekeeper at 19 Carlyle Mansions, Chelsea.