[No surviving envelope]

T. S.Eliot
Faber & Faber Ltd
5 March 1936
Dearest Love,

The ‘Aquitania’ brought me your long and welcome letter of the 24th, and is now, I trust, carrying back two letters from me – this boat and the ‘Bremen’ and the ‘Europa’ and one or two others seem to have a letter between us, one way or the other, on every voyage. YouGwynne, M. Brooke;a5 will be glad to know that at last Miss Brooke-Gwynne is coming to see me – to have tea – this afternoon, her first appointment having been during my illness (I am perfectly well, but have I believe a few pounds to make up). ‘TheAuden, Wystan Hugh ('W. H.')The Dog Beneath the Skin (with Isherwood);d5 Dog beneath the Skin’ proved unexpectedly enjoyable, being really very well produced and acted. The staging was simple and left much to the imagination, without being crude. What emerged, however, is the tediousness of that kind of chorus. TheyIsham, Gylesin Dog Beneath the Skin;a1 hadTurleigh, Veronicain The Dog Beneath the Skin;a1 two people, a man and a woman (Gyles Isham,1 who was bad, and Veronica Turleigh,2 who was good) who stepped up between the scenes, in white masks and white gloves. I don’t quite see how the play, as at present constructed, could do without the chorus, because it consists of not very closely related scenes which do not work up any cumulative effect – you merely think ‘that was a good scene’ – ‘that one was not so good’ – and you did some explanation of the transitions. Nevertheless, one comes to feel the chorus more and more as an interruption, and one gets tired of having to have things explained, and being preached at. I believe that a chorus of two is more tedious than a larger varied one; and that a small chorus, particularly, ought to be more integrated with the action. TheRock, Theits choruses;d7 chorus of the ‘Rock’ had this weakness, of course, and even the verse no longer seems to me very good: but it got away with it with the audience partly because it was a great novelty, and partly because of the pleasure of following the variations from voice to voice.

IMurder in the Cathedralthe form of its choruses;b8 was much interested by Miss Gilman’s criticism of ‘Murder’, though I do not agree with her.3 My chorus, of course, on the stage is not really very Greek, as it is probable that the Greek delivery was very different, andFogerty, Elsiepioneer of contemporary chorus;b3 I think this partition work of voice is quite modern and more or less invented, or at any rate nearly perfected, by Elsie Fogerty. And I can’t see that the chorus is any more archaic than the speeches of the tempters! Verywritingand originality;b7 likely there is a better form of chorus to be devised – I hope there is, because I like to think that there are discoveries to be made – but I don’t believe that anyone could hit upon a new and perfect dramatic form just out of his own head. I do not see how drama can be written, except by gradual evolution of an existing form, or, if there is no active form that suits one’s purposes, then one must go back deliberately and work from an older form – though a man may hope, with practice, in time to develop something new out of the old. The amount of originality even in ordinary poetry is less than people often suppose: one normally starts by adherence to an existing model, either immediately preceding oneself or of an earlier age, or of a different language, and working towards originality – because originality is something (as distinct from mere eccentricity) that only comes with labour and experience. Now, I can’t see, from your report, that Miss Gilman gave any reason for not working from a Greek model, except that she doesn’t like it. Does she think that one must invent something completely new? The writing of plays is something that needs to be learnt, and one has to make use of the experience of others. I know that I have a good deal to learn, about dramatic structure etc., but I couldn’t learn much from contemporary drama, because I think verse drama is not merely a play put into verse, but something which has different laws than prose drama. ItShakespeare, Williambut equally wariness of;a4 is much more possible to make use of the Greeks, without being merely imitative, than it is to follow Shakespeare. Several times, in the course of writing ‘Murder’, I found myself falling into Shakespearean blank verse – whenever one is napping, the magnetic pull of that vast power displays itself – and my Shakespearean verse was always bad. The, at times, rather violent alliteration of a fifteenth century kind, was a needed support in the fight against blank verse. And I can’t see that going back to AEschylus (whose metric I couldn’t imitate anyway, because I am not a good enough Greek scholar) is any more shocking than to go back to William Langland and pre-Renaissance English metres.

Of course, I don’t want just to stick in the exact choral form of ‘Murder’. I want to try very small choruses too (for a practical reason as well, because a chorus like that of Murder’ has to be so well done in order to be worth doing at all) and have them still more involved in the action. And I want eventually to get away from having bits that stick out as ‘modern’. That is too easy. The ideal is to get something of a homogeneous texture throughout, which shall be modern in the best sense, but which shall not assail the audience’s consciousness with any shock of modernity. The audience, in the end, if one gets a really good medium, should be affected by the verse without being wholly aware of it. They should not have to be thinking all the time ‘this is a play in verse’; the poetry should be perfectly transparent, and simply operate on the sensibility of the audience as to give them the highest possible emotional intensity in their feeling of the action.

ThenMurder in the Cathedraldefended from obscurity;b9, as for being obscure – I don’t think there is much obscurity in ‘Murder’! except that some things will be plainer to people familiar with Catholic doctrine than to others: and I want to get a pure simplicity in drama. ButBurnt Nortonobscurity of;b2 there are legitimate uses to which obscurity can be put in other poetry. The obscurity that a man cannot help is a weakness, because if one has to be obscure always it probably means that one is not in complete control either of feeling or expression. But deliberate obscurity is sometimes justified by the possibility of obtaining effects that way which are otherwise unattainable. ‘BurntSt. John of the Crosshis obscurity;a3 Norton’ would have to be rather obscure in any case, because the experience dealt with, both in its simplicity and in its complexity, is obscure – and it’s much simpler than St. John of the Cross, upon whom I draw! But that doesn’t mean that I am about to surround myself forever in a cloud of invisibility.

IMorleys, thesee EH in Boston;g1 am glad that you saw the Morleys by themselves, as I am sure that it would be more satisfactory than a collective party. I expect to see him by the middle of next week.

IBrackett, Louisa;a2 amSt. Catherine's School, Richmond, Va.ultimately disappoints her;a5 thoroughly exasperated by Mrs Brackett’s playing fast and loose with you in that way. It is very inconsiderate of people either to hold out improbably [sc. improbable] hopes, or to keep others in suspense. I can understand what the strain of going after several jobs can be, and dropping one to follow another, and so on, and then have them all dematerialise. So I beg you to face that strain consciously, instead of merely letting it work upon you, and try deliberately, as one must, to keep some calmness and stillness of emotion throughout. That is very difficult. You must fix your attention upon possibilities of work in the autumn – though not overlooking anything that may turn up meanwhile – and stay where you are at Brimmer Street and take care of yourself. And my dearest, I am depressed by the thin and arid life that is yours in these circumstances, especially knowing that you are a person who needs the emotional outlet of releasing your energy in impersonal work. (ToPerkinses, theTSE encourages EH's independence from;f4 dedicate your life to your aunt and uncle would be a form of suicide – which would not be good for them either, in the long run). And one does need, for one’s development, the society of a variety of people holding various and conflicting views, so that one’s mind about things shall be made up by oneself and by no one else. Oh dear, it irritates me so that I have to make an effort to stop thinking about it after a while, when I think of the kind of life you deserve and need and ought to have even when thinking of the best life for you by yourself, or without me, and not even thinking of what we both want).

FrederickEliot, Revd Frederick May (TSE's first cousin)compared to Martha;a5 has energy and efficiency, butEliot, Dr Martha May (TSE's cousin)superior to brother;a3 I think that his sister Martha is much his superior mentally, and I think has a clearer and more penetrating mind.4 Hers is a more thorough-going mind; and I admire people who see through compromise and evasion.

Suffering does not automatically do people good; in fact it may be that the majority of people, who are semi-conscious, are better without the deeper forms of suffering. But one has to deal with it by becoming more conscious, by trying to understand it and see one’s own pain in relation to the pain of the world as a whole and the mystery of pain; and one can make oneself a better person, more of a person, more oneself, through whatever comes.

My dear.————Emilie
from her

1.GylesIsham, Gyles Isham (1903–76); aristocrat, stage and screen actor, historian; educated at Magdalen College, Oxford (where he was President of the Union). In 1941 he succeeded his father as 12th Baron Lamport.

2.VeronicaTurleigh, Veronica Turleigh (1903–71), Irish stage and screen actor, educated at University College Dublin; admired by her friend Alec Guinness .

3.Not traced.

4.Frederick May Eliot and Martha May Eliot.

Auden, Wystan Hugh ('W. H.'), and EP's 'Seafarer', TSE sends EH Poems, TSE recites 'To Gabriel Carritt', remembered by Ethel Swan, as dramatist, and Yeats's Mercury Theatre plans, Holmesian prank devised for, Doone wants for Westminster Theatre, collaborative efforts lamented by TSE, talks films at JDH's, strays from F&F, preoccupied with Byron and Barcelona, TSE on 'Letter to Lord Byron', as verse dramatist, away in Aragon for premiere, and Isherwood's plays versus Spender's, forgets to thank Keynes, TSE on his Isherwood plays, condoles TSE over Sandburg accusation, in bad odour, in America, circulating drollery on latest book-title, as pictured by TSE in America, Journey to a War (with Isherwood), Letters from Iceland (with MacNeice), New Year Letter, On the Frontier (with Isherwood), Paid on Both Sides, The Ascent of F6 (with Isherwood), The Dance of Death, The Dog Beneath the Skin (with Isherwood),

10.W. H. AudenAuden, Wystan Hugh ('W. H.') (1907–73), poet, playwright, librettist, translator, essayist, editor: see Biographical Register.

Brackett, Louisa,

2.EHBrackett, Louisa hoped for a position at St. Catherine’s School, Westhampton, Richmond, Virginia (a girls’ school, est. 1917). Louisa Brackett, wife of J. R. Brackett, was headmistress, 1924–47.

Burnt Norton, its Kensington origins, the moment in the rose-garden, opening sent to EH, TSE too moved to write, its composition a form of communion with EH, epigraphs from Heraclitus, 'our' first poem, as 'quartet', all but final lines please TSE, obscurity of, 'Garlic and sapphires' explained, 'about' EH, TSE forced into after-dinner reading of, TSE closes Edinburgh reading with, reprinted in shilling form, as 'Cotswolds poem', sales, most difficult quartet to record, and Alice in Wonderland,
Eliot, Dr Martha May (TSE's cousin), superior to brother, sent to England on commission, returns to America, TSE's favourite cousin, shares prognosis on Henry's leukaemia,

1.DrEliot, Dr Martha May (TSE's cousin) Martha May Eliot (1891–1978), pediatrician: see Biographical Register.

Eliot, Revd Frederick May (TSE's first cousin), invites TSE to lecture in St. Paul, qua preacher, as TSE's St. Paul host, unChristian, compared to Martha, versus Dr Perkins's Unitarianism, less observant than older generation, conspicuously absent from church manifestoes, compared to Uncle Christopher, and Margaret's death,

2.RevdEliot, Revd Frederick May (TSE's first cousin) Frederick May Eliot (1889–1958) – first cousin – Unitarian clergyman and author: see Biographical Register.

Fogerty, Elsie, to collaborate on The Rock, her chorus represents The Church, TSE gives poetry-reading to oblige, in rehearsal, her chorus on opening night, in the Archbishop of Canterbury's presence, committed to Mercury Murder revival, her chorus versus Dublin chorus, pioneer of contemporary chorus, Murder's chorus without, puts TSE forward for committee,

2.ElsieFogerty, Elsie Fogerty, CBE, LRAM (1865–1945), teacher of elocution and drama training; founder in 1906 of the Central School of Speech and Drama (Laurence Olivier and Peggy Ashcroft were favourite pupils). Fogerty was to train the chorus for the Canterbury premiere in 1935 of TSE’s Murder in the Cathedral.

Gwynne, M. Brooke, EH puts in TSE's way, TSE teaches 'Usk' and 'Rannoch' for, hosts EH in Yorkshire, hosts her again, importunes another reading from TSE, present at RHS bequest,

4.M. BrookeGwynne, M. Brooke Gwynne, University of London Institute of Education – ‘a Training College for Graduate students’ – invited TSE on 19 Jan. to participate in their Weds.-morning seminar: ‘Emily Hale suggested that you might possibly consent to come to the Institute to talk to our students; otherwise I should have not felt justified in asking you … The teaching of poetry is the subject most hotly discussed & the subject we should like you to choose if possible.’

Isham, Gyles, in Dog Beneath the Skin,

1.GylesIsham, Gyles Isham (1903–76); aristocrat, stage and screen actor, historian; educated at Magdalen College, Oxford (where he was President of the Union). In 1941 he succeeded his father as 12th Baron Lamport.

Morleys, the, join the Eliots in Eastbourne, TSE fears overburdening, go on holiday to Norway, more TSE's friend than VHE's, return from Norway, life at Pike's Farm among, reading Dickens aloud to, their Thanksgiving parties, suitable companions to Varsity Cricket Match, and TSE to Laughton's Macbeth, TSE's June 1934 fortnight with, and certain 'bathers' photographs', and TSE play 'GO', attend Richard II with EH, TSE's New Years celebrated with, take TSE to Evelyn Prentice and Laurel & Hardy, TSE's return from Wales with, TSE's September 1935 week with, leave for New York, one of two regular ports-of-call, see EH in Boston, safely returned from New York, TSE reads Dr Johnson to, compared to the Tandys, add to their menagerie, reiterate gratitude for EH's peppermints, in Paris with TSE, give TSE copy of Don Quixote, and Fabers take TSE to pantomime, and TSE's Salzburg expedition, join Dorothy Pound dinner, visit Hamburg, have Labrador puppies, dinner at Much Hadham for, TSE to see them off at Kings Cross, seem unhappy in America, Thanksgiving without, in New Canaan, return to Lingfield, remember TSE's birthday, difficulties of renewing friendship with,
Murder in the Cathedral, idea for initially suggested by Laurence Irving, offered to Martin Browne, St. Thomas as TSE's muse, TSE on writing, tentatively, 'The Archbishop Murder Case', uncertainties over title, currently 'Fear in the Way', which proves unpopular, TSE on rewriting, title settled on, final revisions for printer, tentatively critiqued by EH, and EH on TSE as dramatist, chorus copied for EH, Virginia Woolf's aspersions on, the form of its choruses, defended from obscurity, did not test TSE's plotting, book-sales to-date, $1,000 offered for American rights, pays for 1936 American trip, Italian and Hungarian rights sold, and Whiggery, Savile Club dinner to celebrate, compared to next play, discrepancies of Canterbury Text, Martin Browne's initial response to, TSE recognised as author of, TSE on its cheerful title, EH on, abandoned Mercury Theatre premiere, suggested by Yeats and Doone, in the offing, and Doone's response to first draft, EH requested at, imperilled, text copied for Yeats, 1935 Canterbury Festival production, in rehearsal, opening night, reception, final performance, and EH's response, 1935–6 Mercury Theatre revival, Martin Browne pushing for, in rehearsal, which EH attends, compared to Canterbury original, at the box-office, its 100th performance, still running, proposed tour to end, 1936 BBC radio version, BBC bid to produce, broadcast fixed, BBC memo on, in rehearsal, TSE on, abortive 1936 New York transfer, Dukes visits America to arrange, blighted by Brace's actions, quashed by Federal Theatre production, its usurper founders, deferred to autumn, unsolicited 1936 New York production, licensed by Brace, to be directed by Rice, seemingly withdrawn, Rice resigns from, delights EH and Eleanor Hinkley, TSE sent press-cuttings for, EH reports on, TSE speculates as to textual discrepancies, attended by Eleanor Roosevelt, extended and potentially expanded, TSE to the Transcript on, may predispose immigration authorities favourably in future, royalties from, 1936 University College, Dublin student production, described by TSE, rumoured Australian and American productions, 1936 Gate Theatre touring production, TSE's long-held wish, scheduled, 1936 touring production, due at the Arts Theatre, Cambridge, as it was played in Cambridge, 1936 America pirate production, 1937 Duchess Theatre West End transfer, date fixed for, announced in Times, dress-rehearsal attended, reception, reviewed, royalties, still playing, ticket sales pick up, coming to an end, receives royal visit, 1937 touring production, scheduled post-Duchess, beginning in Leeds, then Manchester, going strong, 1937 Harvard University production, 1937 Amherst College production, singled out for praise, 1937 Old Vic production, touring production arrived at, in rehearsal, 1937 Tewkesbury Drama Festival production, 1938 American tour, projected for January 1937, said date seconded by Dukes, deferred to September 1937, confirmed again by Dukes, pre-tour dates in Golders Green, then Liverpool, opening in Boston in January, over which EH is consulted, tour itinerary, Family Reunion keeps TSE from, preparatory re-rehearsal for, pre-crossing Liverpool dates, EH's judgement desired, EH reports on first night, reviewed in The Times, EH sends New York cuttings, prematurely transferred to New York, Dukes reports on, Westminster Cathedral Hall charity performance, 1940 Latham Mercury revival, revival suggested in rep with Family Reunion, wartime modern-dress production suggested, ambushes TSE, in rehearsal, first night, reviewed, Browne's wartime Pilgrim Players' adaptation, Hoellering film, Hoellering's initial approach made, Hoellering's vision for, TSE adapting for screen, reconnoitre of Canterbury for, casting Becket, recording made for, development process described to NYT, non-actor found for Becket, screenings of Groser, set-dressing, screening, approaching release, still in the edit, final screening, and Venice Film Festival, seeking distribution, soon to premiere, opens, initial reception, circulating in shortened version, 1945 Théâtre du Vieux Colombier production, compared to Martin Browne's, royalties, apparently a hit, reviewed, reaches 150 performances, Fluchère's involvement, 1946 German production, 1947 Edinburgh Festival production, 1948 Milton Academy production, 1949 broadcast, 1949 Berlin production, politically resonant, 1952 University of Rennes, Grand Théâtre abridgment, 1952 Théatre National Populaire production, 1953 Old Vic revival, waiting on Donat, TSE on, 1954 Harvard production,
Perkinses, the, likely to be interested in An Adventure, compared to Mary Ware, enjoyable dinner at the Ludlow with, take to TSE, TSE desires parental intimacy with, their dinner-guests dismissed by TSE, who repents of seeming ingratitude, TSE confides separation plans to, too polite, questioned as companions for EH, offered English introductions, entertained on arrival in London, seek residence in Chichester, given introduction to G. C. Coulton, take house at Chipping Camden, as Chipping Campden hosts, given introduction to Bishop Bell, TSE entertains at Oxford and Cambridge Club, TSE's private opinion on, TSE encourages EH's independence from, their repressive influence on EH, buy TSE gloves for Christmas, sent Lapsang Souchong on arrival in England, invite TSE to Campden, move apartment, anticipate 1938 English summer, descend on EH in Northampton, and EH's wartime return to America, temporarily homeless, enfeebled, EH forwards TSE teenage letter to, their health, which is a burden, approve EH's permanent Abbot position,
Rock, The, TSE invited to write, outlined to the Martin Brownes, as TSE's theatrical apprenticeship, outlined for EH, TSE's motivation in undertaking, four choruses drafted, from which TSE quotes approvingly, TSE busy on the prose, its political, anti-Blackshirt scene, and its censors, its 'bastard' cockney, 'Rahere' scene sent to EH, its production, difficulties of composition, and Patricia Shaw-Page's 'prologue', awaiting final chorus, on the point of completion, cockney dialogue revised, Lord Chamberlain's Office pronounces on, its anti-fascism, in rehearsal, the dress-rehearsal, opening night and reception, cuts pondered, Tandy on cuts to, approaching finale, reception, two connected supper-parties, its choruses, Cornish schoolgirl recites chorus from, quoted by EH, EH on,
St. Catherine's School, Richmond, Va., EH and possible short-term post at, whose terms EH rejects, then reconsiders, keeps EH in suspense, ultimately disappoints her,
St. John of the Cross, and Miss Plunket Greene, in Burnt Norton, his obscurity, discussed at JDH's, in Sweeney and generally, on spiritual sin, wartime reading,
Shakespeare, William, Bunny Wilson and TSE discuss, writing Murder increases TSE's admiration for, but equally wariness of, spiritually 'helpful', preferable in modern dress, EH imagined as Lady Macbeth, later as Hermione, All's Well that Ends Well, Antony and Cleopatra, As You Like It, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, Hamlet, Henry VIII, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Measure for Measure, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Richard II, Richard III, 'Sonnet CXXXII', The Tempest, Timon of Athens, Troilus and Cressida, Twelfth Night, The Winter's Tale,
Turleigh, Veronica, in The Dog Beneath the Skin,

2.VeronicaTurleigh, Veronica Turleigh (1903–71), Irish stage and screen actor, educated at University College Dublin; admired by her friend Alec Guinness .

writing, and routine, to EH, like talking to the deaf, development and development in the writer, and 're-creative thought', TSE's pace of working, correspondence, and Beethoven, and whether to keep a notebook, dialogue, and loving one's characters, and the necessity for reinvention, to someone as against speaking, plays written chiefly for EH, prose between poems, poetry versus prose, and originality, poetry three hours every morning, plot, and obscurity, blurbs, letters of rejection, requires periods of fruitful latency, on new typewriter, TSE's 'old Corona', the effect of war on, and reading, as taught by the book, prize-day addresses, weekly articles, concisely, from imagination, from experience, for broadcast, out of doors, rewriting old work, and public-speaking, by hand,