[22 Paradise Rd., Northampton, Mass.]

T. S.Eliot
[Blank sheet]
14 December 1939

Letter no. 19.


A second letter came from you last week, no. 15; but so far nothing this week. ThereRaynes Park County SchoolTSE's prize-day appearance at;a1 was no reason why I should not have written on Tuesday this week, as I intended to, except that I had undertaken to distribute the prizes at the Raynes Park County School to-day, which meant making a short speech; and I am always so fidgety for at least two days before any public appearance, that I cannot settle my mind to anything else. It is a pity that I cannot learn to do these things easily, because as it is they waste so much time: but on the other hand my difficulty prevents me from undertaking many speaking engagements. Iwritingprize-day addresses;d1 have to make fairly full notes first, boil them down, and finally reduce them to the back of a post card; going over and over them in my mind and reciting the speech to myself. Even then it is not so effective as what any politician could do without five minutes’ thought: but I do not want to be a politician, and perhaps there is sometimes more pith in what I try to say than if I was. TheGarrett, John;a1 occasion for this was that the Headmaster, John Garrett, was one of the Criterion young men, and I thought had some claim upon me, and I believe he is a good headmaster.1 It was informal, no parent, governors or visitors: about 300-odd boys. It is a dreary suburban neighbourhood; the boys apparently the sons of small city clerks, and the parents’ highest ambition for them is to see them articled to solicitors, or on the staff of an insurance company. A few are worthy of something better; some would be better as artisans, craftsmen or mechanics – which is also better, though to the parents it would seem a disgraceful descent in the social scale. Nothing but upheaval would break this attitude. They struck me as undersized and weakly looking: I dare say many of them are only children. That depressed me; but the masters seemed a fairly good lot – I had tea with them afterwards.

IMcKnight Kauffers, theTSE's sense of obligation to;a8McKnight Kauffer, EdwardMcKnight Kauffers, theMcKnight Kauffer, Marion (née Dorn)McKnight Kauffers, the have to go away for one more weekend, unwelcome at this time of year – the weather has turned very cold too – to the Kauffers, who are Americans. They have a small house somewhere near Henley.2 I would not have accepted, but I have never been there before, though I have known them off and on for a good many years; and they are the sort of people who are not very sure of themselves and would be unhappy and attribute some odd motive if I didn’t go at some time.

After that, I shall of course be here over Christmas. ItSeaverns, Helen;d6 is probable that I shall have to take a meal with Mrs. Seaverns round about Christmas: I have just heard from her that she is coming up for Christmas to a hotel. She pines and complains of the loneliness and dreariness of hotel life in Hove: it is a great pity that she has never developed any strong interest to carry over into old age. OtherwiseJanes, W. L.first Christmas without;b9, myHayward, Johnthe prospect of Christmas without;j9 Christmas will be rather solitary, I expect: no Janes and no John Hayward. But I had rather be alone here than be a visitor (apart from wanting to be here for the church services and my duties): ITandys, the;b5Tandy, AlisonTandys, theTandy, Anthea Margaret CraneTandys, theTandy, GeoffreyTandys, theTandy, PollyTandys, the could have gone to Dorset to the Tandys had I cared to.

TheSecond World WarTSE's thoughts on;b2 political confusion only becomes more confused: withEuropethe effects of war on;a7 nothing even to settle down to, except the prospect of economic severities and gradual but radical changes in the whole structure of European society, of which it is impossible to foretell the directions. And I do not believe that the situation is any more intelligible from your distant perspective: there is probably a tendency in America, as among some older people here, to conceive the conflict in terms of 1914, though the situation is really very different – different in being a continuation of it, with twenty-five years of change in between. It will in the end require great adaptability, and I try to keep my mind young enough to be capable of what adaptation may prove necessary.

YesFlat 3, 11 Emperor's GateSt. Stephen's keeps TSE at;b5, IFabers, theoffer possible wartime refuge;e6Faber, Richard ('Dick')Fabers, theFaber, AnnFabers, theFaber, Enid EleanorFabers, theFaber, GeoffreyFabers, theFaber, Thomas Erle ('Tom', TSE's godson)Fabers, the had rather stay here than go to the Fabers; especially as the only need for such evacuation would be the shutting up of this flat, and that would only be if the church attendance fell off so, or its finances dwindled to a point at which it was necessary to amalgamate with some other church in the neighbourhood. At present there is no prospect of that. And it isn’t even as if I should be the only lodger at the Fabers; for they already have, for the duration, Bill Watt,3 who is an old school friend of Geoffrey’s, and rather a dull dog. ItWatt, Billthe Fabers' wartime lodger;a1 would be rather more companionship than I seem to want, for there [is] no lack of people to see and talk to. I think you would agree – though I quite realise that if the situation were reversed I also should feel easier if you were living with friends rather than alone. I don’t think that my social contacts are quite so narrow as you seem to think! Indeed, they seem to me rather wider than those of most people I know!

But your letter No. 15 gave me great satisfaction, and a greater sense of nearness in correspondence. I shall miss you very much during this season – though we have never been in the same place for Christmas – all the more because you say you have not been very well. You do not say how you will spend the holidays – I hope not altogether in Commonwealth Avenue, but at least a week with friends with whom you can rest. I shall pray that Christmas may bring you the same consolation that I ask for myself.

Your loving

I do hope your wardrobe is adequate. I am glad you have a short fur coat.

1.JohnGarrett, John Garrett (1902–66), pioneering schoolmaster, read History at Oxford. Head of English at Whitgift School, 1931–5, he was then appointed headmaster of the new county secondary school at Raynes Park, Surrey, where he galvanised the curriculum, recruited talented teachers, stimulated imaginations, and invited figures from the arts – including TSE, Benjamin Britten, Louis MacNeice, Stephen Spender – to address the school. By 1942 Raynes Park School was deemed one of the best schools in the UK. Head of Bristol Grammar School, 1942–60.

2.The Kauffers were residing at North End, Henley-on-Thames, Buckinghamshire.

3.BillWatt, Bill Watt, literary agent.

Europe, and Henry James, through the 1930s, its importance for America, potentially inspired by FDR, in the event of war, seems more alive than America, the effects of war on, its post-war future, its post-war condition, the possibility of Federal Union, TSE's sense of duty towards,
Fabers, the, model of happiness and respectability, their domestic situation, Faber children to tea chez Eliot, visit TSE at Pike's Farm, compared to the Morleys, closer to TSE than to VHE, 1933 summer holiday with, Ty Glyn Aeron described, request TSE to write play, too absorbed in their children, at the Morleys' party, give anti-Nazi party for author, host poker party, 1934 summer holiday with, take TSE to lunch in Oxford, 1935 summer holiday with, for which the children are bought tent, give party, 1936 summer holiday with, at Morleys' Thanksgiving Day party, sail model boats with TSE, and TSE's foggy adventure, cinema-going with TSE, take TSE to Witch of Edmonton, and Morleys take TSE to pantomime, and TSE attend opening of Ascent of F6, 1937 summer holiday with, and the Bradfield Greek play, School for Scandal with, take TSE to pantomime again, 1938 summer holiday with, 1939 summer holiday with, offer possible wartime refuge, 1940 summer holiday with, host TSE in Hampstead during war, TSE makes bread sauce for, brought vegetables from Shamley, move to Minsted, and TSE attend musical revue, 1941 summer holiday with, Minsted as substitute for nursing-home, trying to sell Welsh home, take TSE to International Squadron, invite TSE to Wales for Christmas, host TSE at Minsted, away fishing in Scotland, mourn TSE's post-war independence, 1947 Minsted summer stay, 1948 Minsted summer stay, host TSE for weekend, on 1950 South Africa trip, on TSE's 1951 Spain trip, 1951 Minsted summer stay, 1952 Minsted summer stay, 1953 Minsted summer stay, on 1953–4 South Africa trip, 35th wedding anniversary weekend,
Flat 3, 11 Emperor's Gate, and East Coker, TSE moving to, described, TSE's initial impressions of, EH stays in, makes TSE ill, compared to Grenville Place, TSE's situation at, made homelier, drawing desk acquired for, redecorated with EH's presents, and TSE's wartime routine, St. Stephen's keeps TSE at, water pipes freeze, shut up during Blitz, date of TSE's removal from,
Garrett, John,

1.JohnGarrett, John Garrett (1902–66), pioneering schoolmaster, read History at Oxford. Head of English at Whitgift School, 1931–5, he was then appointed headmaster of the new county secondary school at Raynes Park, Surrey, where he galvanised the curriculum, recruited talented teachers, stimulated imaginations, and invited figures from the arts – including TSE, Benjamin Britten, Louis MacNeice, Stephen Spender – to address the school. By 1942 Raynes Park School was deemed one of the best schools in the UK. Head of Bristol Grammar School, 1942–60.

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.

Janes, W. L., and 'Billy M'Caw: The Remarkable Parrot', reports on VHE, his Christmas dinners with TSE, singing and reminiscing, retirement anniversary dinner for, a saying of, one of TSE's dependents, disturbed by disappearing cats, ill but merry, a burden, dying in hospital, Christmas Day hospital visit to, TSE on his death and funeral, first Christmas without,
see also Janeses, the

4.W. L. JanesJanes, W. L. (1854–1939), ex-policeman who worked as handyman for the Eliots. Having been superannuated from the police force early in the century, he worked for a period (until about 1921) as a plain-clothes detective in the General Post Office. TSE reminisced to Mary Trevelyan on 2 Apr. 1951: ‘If I ever write my reminiscences, which I shan’t, Janes would have a great part in them’ (‘The Pope of Russell Square’). TSE to Adam Roberts (b. 1940; godson of TSE), 12 Dec. 1955: ‘I … knew a retired police officer, who at one period had to snoop in plain clothes in the General Post Office in Newgate Street – he caught several culprits, he said’ (Adam Roberts). HisJanes, Ada wife was Ada Janes (d. 1935).

McKnight Kauffers, the, look in on Eliots' dinner, accompany TSE to Dance of Death, drop in on Boxing Day, their marital problems, celebrate JDH's birthday, TSE's sense of obligation to, host TSE in New York, see TSE off at La Guardia,
Raynes Park County School, TSE's prize-day appearance at, invites TSE to give talk,
Seaverns, Helen, finally dines with TSE, teaches TSE card games, bearer of EH's Christmas present, charms TSE, hosts TSE and the Perkinses, entertained by TSE, TSE hesitates to confide in, and Perkinses dine with TSE, to tea with TSE, seeks advice from TSE on transatlantic tourism, her comforts equivalent to Mappie's, houses EH on 1939 arrival, an old spoiled child, disburdens herself over tea, laments life in Hove, removed from grandchildren,

3.HelenSeaverns, Helen Seaverns, widow of the American-born businessman and Liberal MP, Joel Herbert Seaverns: see Biographical Register.

Second World War, the prospect of, F&F plans in the event of, Britain's preparations for, prognostications as to its outbreak, and The Family Reunion, and the policy of appeasement, and transatlantic tourism, evacuation imminent, TSE discusses its outbreak with Dutchman, TSE refrains from commenting on, TSE's thoughts on, its effect on TSE, the 'Winter War', the 'Phoney War', Molotov–Ribbentrop pact, rationing, evacuation, seems continuous with First World War, invasion of Poland, invasion of Denmark and Norway, Chamberlain's resignation, Italy's declaration of war, Dunkirk, The Blitz, Battle of Cape Matapan, Operation Barbarossa, Greece enters war, Pearl Harbor, the Pacific War, Libyan campaign, North African campaign, and TSE's decision to remain in England, in relation to the First, prospect of its end unsettles, and returning to London, bombing of German cities, its effect on TSE's work, prognostications as to its end, the Little Blitz, Operation Overlord, V-1 Cruise Missile strikes, Operation Market Garden, and continental privations, and post-war European prospects, The Battle of the Bulge, possibility of post-war pandemic, V-2 Bombs, concentration camps, Germany's surrender, VE Day, and post-war Anglo-American relations, VJ Day, atomic bomb, its long-term economic consequences,
Tandys, the, TSE's Hampton weekends with, TSE's weekend in Newhaven with, as family, welcome baby daughter, compared to the Morleys, move to new Hampton home, host TSE for Guy Fawkes night, give TSE pipes for Christmas, versus the de la Mares, take large Dorset cottage, host TSE in Dorset, their situation in Dorset, accompanied to Alice in Wonderland,
Watt, Bill, the Fabers' wartime lodger, TSE to visit, implores TSE to visit him in Cambridge, where TSE eventually visits,

3.BillWatt, Bill Watt, literary agent.

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,