[22 Paradise Rd., Northampton, Mass.]

T. S.Eliot
The Criterion
Maundy Thursday
[6 April] 1939
Dearest Emilie

I have your letter from the Pennsylvania Station, and thank you for writing from there, as otherwise I should have had nothing until after Easter. After a few warmish days the weather has returned to wet, cold and windy; and the prospects for a fine Easter are not good. That hardly affects me, as you know: I spend the time attending services and counting money. Tonight Tenebrae and tomorrow morning, that is from four to five in the morning, I take my watch before the sacrament with my fellow warden; then a few hours more sleep before the Good Friday Mass at 10. After that the exercises are less exhausting, except for the two hours service before breakfast on Saturday. And there will be a bank holiday on Monday.

TheFamily Reunion, TheMarch 1939 Westminster Theatre production;g3coming off;a8 play is to run only until the end of next week. I rather expect next week to be the best in attendance, unless the international situation becomes more uneasy. ButHarris, Robertcannot manage Becket in rep;a2 the project for running it with a revival of Murder in the Cathedral has fallen through: Harris feels that to learn both the part of Becket and the part of Harry in a fortnight was too much for him, and I don’t blame him. WeHaye, Helenkeen on repertory Murder;a3 mightLacey, Catherineas Agatha in Family Reunion;a1 have a good small chorus: I was particularly pleased that Helen Haye (Amy) who must be getting on for seventy, should have volunteered to take part in the chorus of Murder so as to go on playing Amy. AtRedgrave, Michaelwhich does not increase his reputation;a5 any rate, she and Catherine Lacey have both added to their reputations through this play, even if Michael Redgrave and I have not. ButSayers, Dorothy L.congratulates TSE on Family Reunion;a1 Dorothy Sayers’s letter (which I send under separate cover) is very pleasing.1 You must not think that I am at all discouraged; I only wish that the play could have run longer so as to bring more money for everybody concerned. TheyPriestley, J. B.and Family Reunion's unsuccess;a2 have all, from Priestley down, been very sporting over it.

IFamily Reunion, The;g5 shall be very much interested to see the New York reviews of the book, especially as they will affect our attitude about a New York production. MartinBrowne, Elliott Martinon Family Reunion's future prospects;c8 thinks that the play might be more popular there than here; but he agrees with me at the moment, that the lack of any spectacular success here indicates that he should wait for a season or so, until the reading public has had had [sic] time to get used to the text, before starting enquiries. MeanwhileDukes, Ashleyinstructed on Family Reunion licensing;f5 I have taken the precaution of warning Ashley that I will not agree to the play being licensed for any amateur performance whatsoever, either here or in America.

Poor darling, you have had your usual lot of burdens at the time when you most needed rest. People will fall ill on anyone like yourself, who are so self-sacrificing. It would not even surprise me if your next letter were to say that you found both the Havens’s in bed with flu and spent your vacation nursing them. ButHavenses, theEH stays with;a6 I hope to learn that you have spent a very lazy quiet time with them, and been refreshed by their company. And as you say, it is a good thing to establish contact with other colleges. But I wish I could look after you.

Your loving

1.DorothySayers, Dorothy L. L. Sayers (1893–1957), crime writer, playwright, translator, essayist: see Biographical Register.

SayersSayers, Dorothy L.congratulates TSE on Family Reunion;a1 wrote on 4 Apr.: ‘I have taken the liberty of quoting from The Family Reunion in an article for the Leader page of the Sunday Times on Easter Day. I hope you do not mind, and that you will feel you can approve of the way I have interpreted the very small part of the play’s meaning, which I have been able to get into this restricted space ...

‘May I take this opportunity to say what a magnificent play I think it; I took with me to the theatre a friend of very agnostic views, who was further prejudiced against the play by the fact that she did not care for Murder in the Cathedral; she was profoundly moved, and said it was the most exciting evening she had spent in the theatre for very many years’ (Princeton; The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers, II: 1937–1943, ed. Barbara Reynolds [2014], 125).

SeeSayers, Dorothy L.on Family Reunion and Christian acceptance;a2n Sayers, ‘The Food of the Full-Grown’, Sunday Times, 9 Apr. 1939, 12; re-titled as a pamphlet Strong Meat (June 1939), repr. in Creed or Chaos? and other essays in popular Theology (1947), 18: ‘In contending with the problem of evil it is useless to try to escape either from the bad past or into the good past. The only way to deal with the past is to accept the whole past, and by accepting it, to change its meaning. The hero of T. S. Eliot’s The Family Reunion, haunted by the guilt of a hereditary evil, seeks at first “To creep back through the little door” into the shelter of the unaltered past, and finds no refuge there from the pursuing hounds of heaven ... So long as he flees from Time and Evil he is thrall to them, not till he welcomes them does he find strength to transmute them ... It is the release, not from, but into, Reality.

‘That is the great way of Christian acceptance – a very different thing from so-called Christian resignation, which merely submits without ecstasy.’

Browne, Elliott Martin, meets TSE at Chichester, production of The Rock, meets TSE over possible collaboration, talks over outline of play, meets TSE with Martin Shaw, delighted with Rock choruses, discusses unwritten pageant scenes with TSE, predicament as The Rock's director, well connected in amateur circles, revising into the night with TSE, argues with Shaw at dress-rehearsal, presented to Prince Arthur, honoured by Rock cast-supper, producing Gordon Bottomley's play, speaks at Londonderry House with TSE, 1935 Canterbury Murder in the Cathedral, approached by TSE to 'produce', consulted throughout composition, goes silent, lunches with TSE and Speaight, directs and acts despite illness, pursues London Murder revival, 1935–6 Mercury Theatre Murder revival, engaged as producer by Dukes, keen that EH attend rehearsals, simultaneously part of BBC production, agrees about Speaight's decline, preferred as producer for TSE's next play, and Charles Williams's Cranmer, in which he plays 'the Skeleton', and TSE attend Tenebrae, taken to Cambridge after-feast, producing York Nativity Play, which TSE thinks Giottoesque, at Savile Club Murder dinner, producing Shakespeare's Dream, and Ascent of F6, and Tewkesbury Festival Murder confusion, 1939 production of The Family Reunion, due to be sent script, weighing TSE's proposal that he produce, enthused by script, suggests TSE see Mourning Becomes Electra, against Family Reunion as title, pleased with draft, quizzed on fire-safety, typescript prepared for, new draft submitted to, rewrite waits on, receives new draft, criticisms thereof, reports John Gielgud interest, mediates between Gielgud and TSE, TSE throws over Gielgud for, secures Westminster Theatre production, steps into company breach, then into still-greater breach, and the play's weaknesses, direction of Family Reunion, receives TSE's Shakespeare lectures, 1938 American Murder tour, re-rehearsing actors for, suffers fit of pre-tour gloom, yet to report from Boston, and Tewkesbury pageant, accompanies TSE to La Mandragola, on Family Reunion's future prospects, and possible Orson Welles interest, war leaves at loose end, advises TSE over next play, war work with Pilgrim Players, unavailable for modern-dress Murder, compared to tempter/knight successor, requests Pilgrim Players' play from TSE, New Plays by Poets series, as director, and This Way to the Tomb, and Family Reunion revival, urges TSE to concentrate on theatre, 1946 Mercury Family Reunion revival, in rehearsal, possible revue for Mercury Theatre, and The Lady's Not for Burning, Chairman of the Drama League, 1949 Edinburgh Cocktail Party, to produce, TSE's intended first reader for, receives beginning, approves first act, receives TSE's revisions, communciates Alec Guinness's enthusiasm, arranges reading, surpasses himself with production, in Florence, EH suggests moving on from, and the Poets' Theatre Guild, 1950 Cocktail Party New York transfer, compares Rex Harrison and Alec Guinness, TSE debates whether to continue collaboration with, suggests three-play TSE repertory, 1953 Edinburgh Confidential Clerk, receives first two acts, designing sets, 1953 Lyric Theatre Confidential Clerk, attends with TSE, 1954 American Confidential Clerk, 1954 touring Confidential Clerk, TSE and Martin Browne catch in Golders Green, seeks Family Reunion MS from EH,

4.E. MartinBrowne, Elliott Martin Browne (1900–80), English director and producer, was to direct the first production of Murder in the Cathedral: see Biographical Register.

Dukes, Ashley, described by Yeats to TSE, approaches Doone over Mercury Theatre season, lines up Mercury Murder revival, with which he is pleased, his ambitions for Murder, which Brace upsets, instructed as to Murder New York negotiations, hustling in New York, from where he reports, agrees about Speaight's decline, explains miscarriage of 1936 American production, at 100th performance of Murder, latest plans for Murder, revised plans for New York, dares to call TSE in morning, TSE's royalty arrangement with, policing pirate productions of Murder, discusses Murder's America rights, full of grand desgins, takes Browne into partnership, on Murder's Abdication Crisis resonance, among Family Reunion's first readers, plans for Murder, American Murder tour, against Family Reunion as title, pleased with Family Reunion fragment, sent full Family Reunion draft, lets EH down, consulted over Gielgud contract, on Gielgud and Family Reunion, negotiating with Saint-Denis, less persuaded by Family Reunion, optimistic on Family Reunion transfer, instructed on Family Reunion licensing, fields Orson Welles enquiry, suggests wartime Murder revival, which he mounts without consulting TSE, attempting season of miniature operas, submits theatrical reminiscences to TSE, and Murder film rights, book launch for memoirs, reports on TSE's continental productions, gives Garrick Club dinner for TSE, takes full control of Mercury, accompanies TSE to Germany, La Mandragola, The Scene is Changed, Too Many Twins,
see also Dukes, the

4.AshleyDukes, Ashley Dukes (1885–1959), theatre manager, playwright, critic, translator, adapter, author; from 1933, owner of the Mercury Theatre, London: see Biographical Register.

Family Reunion, The, and TSE as Orestes, plot sought for, progress stalled, referred to as 'Orestes play', written against countdown to war, should be artistically a stretch, plot still not settled on, begun, compared to Murder, TSE on writing, described (mid-composition), and Gunn's Carmina Gadelica, described to GCF, EH questions Harry's entrance, draft read to Martin Brownes, projected autumn 1938 production, depletes TSE, and Mourning Becomes Electra, its Greek inheritance, alternatively 'Follow the Furies', first draft promised to EH, as inspired by Tenebrae, being rewritten, work suspended till summer, fair copy being typed, waiting on Browne and Dukes, 'Follow the Furies' quashed by EH, aspires to be Chekhovian, Dukes keen to produce, criticised by Martin Browne, under revision, submitted to EH's theatrical wisdom, for which TSE credits her, possible John Gielgud production, Gielgud-level casting, Browne's final revisions, with the printers, Henry loaned draft, Donat and Saint-Denis interested, in proof, progress towards staging stalled, Saint-Denis interest tempered, possible Tyrone Guthrie production, possible limited Mercury run, its defects, publication scheduled, first draft sent to EH, Michael Redgrave interested in, March 1939 Westminster Theatre production, waits on terms, rehearsals for, which are photographed, opening night contemplated without EH, last-minute flutters, opening night, reception, coming off, TSE's final visit to, Dukes bullish on New York transfer, EH spurs TSE's reflections on, and Otway's Venice Preserv'd, American reception, and Orson Welles, F&F's sales, 1940 American production, Henry harps on the personal aspect, its cheerfulness, EH acknowledges part in, 1943 ADC production, in Dadie Rylands's hands, described, certain lines expressing TSE's frustrations, EH discusses with pupils, plays in Zurich, 1946 Birmingham production, 1946 Mercury revival, rehearsals for, opening night, TSE attends again in company, Spanish translation of, VHE's death calls to mind, its deficiencies, BBC Gielgud broadcast version, first aired, to be repeated, goes nominally with The Cocktail Party, Swedish National Theatre production, compared to Cocktail Party, EH's response to, more 'personal' than Cocktail Party, performed in Göttingen, 1950 Düsseldorf production, 1953 New York production vetoed, 1956 Phoenix Theatre revival, described, Peter Brook congratulated on, Martin Browne seeks MS of,
Harris, Robert, replaces Max Adrian, cannot manage Becket in rep,

1.RobertHarris, Robert Harris (1900–95), British actor.

Havenses, the, EH stays with,
Haye, Helen, as Amy, Daily Telegraph gives credit to, keen on repertory Murder,

2.HelenHaye, Helen Haye (1874–1957), stage and film actor. (She was to play the Duchess of York in Laurence Olivier’s film production of Richard III.)

Lacey, Catherine, as Agatha in Family Reunion, again Agatha in 1946 revival, Daily Telegraph singles out, performance swells with praise, possible Mrs Guzzard,

2.CatherineLacey, Catherine Lacey (1904–79): British actor who was Agatha in The Family Reunion at the Westminster Theatre in 1939 and again at the Mercury Theatre in 1946.

Priestley, J. B., meets TSE as theatre proprietor, and Family Reunion's unsuccess, invites TSE to dinner, speaks at Purchase Tax meeting, as radio broadcaster, as playwright, Dangerous Corner, I Have Been Here Before, Time and the Conways,

1.J. B. PriestleyPriestley, J. B. (1894–1984), novelist, playwright, social commentator, broadcaster; author of bestselling novels including The Good Companions (1929) and Angel Pavement (1930); and plays including Time and the Conways (1937) and An Inspector Calls (1945).

Redgrave, Michael, interested in Family Reunion, agrees to play Harry, preferred to Gielgud, as Harry, which does not increase his reputation, performance pruned by Martin Browne,

1.According to Browne (The Making of T. S. Eliot’s Plays,147), MichaelRedgrave, Michael Redgrave – aged 31 – ‘had already made a name for himself at the Old Vic, with John Gielgud in his season at the Queen’s, and with Michel Saint-Denis at the Phoenix’. TSE to James Forsyth, 16 July 1940 (tseliot.com), on Redgrave: ‘He is a most likeable person and very easy to work with. Unlike some actors he does not assume that he knows more about the play than the author does, and is always anxious to co-operate.’

Sayers, Dorothy L., congratulates TSE on Family Reunion, on Family Reunion and Christian acceptance, takes tea with TSE, scheme for a wartime theatre, her Christian News-Letter contributions, at Bishop Bell's conference,

1.DorothySayers, Dorothy L. L. Sayers (1893–1957), crime writer, playwright, translator, essayist: see Biographical Register.