[41 Brimmer St., Boston]

T. S.Eliot
The Criterion
9 October 1931
My Dove,

It sometimes seems to happen that points in your letters that I want to answer, or sometimes others that from time to time occur to me for mention in my next letter, get quite overlooked when the time for letterwriting comes, and are only recalled later when I can’t write. The one which comes back to my memory at the moment is not an important one: itWoolf, Virginiaas novelist;a9 is merely that I was much interested in the impression you have of Virginia Woolf’s work, which seems to me a very true one, and certainly a view which would interest and probably please her. There is perhaps in her writing the danger of excessive virtuosity – but I have been accused of that too, and we all are nowadays. Anyway, I cannot criticise contemporary writers, and if I do not read them, it is partly lack of time and partly that I can only read what may be of direct profit to me – and contemporary imaginative writers merely, I find, muddle my own vision, such as it is. IWoolf, VirginiaThe Waves;e4 think I will send you her new book ‘The Waves’, as a kind of birthday present, as the ordinary edition of the Shaw Terry letters seems very long delayed.

IBennett, Dilysthen promises to consider poems by;a2 am puzzled this morning by receiving a letter from Miss Dilys Bennett from Seattle, enclosing some poems (not yet read).1 It would take me some time to find the letter in which you first mentioned her; but I was firmly under the impression that she was coming to London, and that your introduction was for that purpose. But she says nothing about coming to London. I shall read them, and show them to one or two others; because there again, I find it very difficult to make up my mind about any of the quantities of verse that come to me; partly that I have had to read so much, most of which is bad, that my perceptions are blunted; and I am so afraid of neglecting something of merit that I do not allow my instinctive first feelings full play.

But to return to the start – you must not be surprised when I apparently neglect speaking of something important, or answering questions, or commenting. If I could sit down every evening and write everything that has come into my mind during the day; or if I could keep a continuous unfinished letter at hand to jot down things as they occur, I should perhaps feel more satisfied with my letters to you. But as it is, only being able to write about two mornings a week, and having to try to put so much into so little space, I can give you little idea of the many things that come to my mind to say to you, during the day and night. Havewritinglike talking to the deaf;a3 you ever talked to a very deaf person? if so, you know that having to shout and often repeat, everything one says sounds not-worth-saying, nothing one has to say seems good enough to be worth speaking at the top of one’s lungs. Of course, by patience, one can somewhat overcome this feeling. It is the same thing in writing; and I try, in writing to you, to let my fingers trip over the keys and say what is in my mind at the moment, without anticipating what I am going to say. At least, it gives me some of the relief that I might have if you were with me at every moment to speak to. The disadvantage of the method is that all the other moments do not get represented! so finally I have arrived, or am arriving, at a kind of compromise. Part of the time I give considered thoughts, or digests of events; that, carried to an extreme, would involve preparing a letter from notes! and giving the effect of an official report or essay. I must add that there is nothing to alter in your method, my Emily. But sometimes the limitations of ink and paper irk me more than at others.

LondonBritish General Election1931;a1 has been pretty quiet, the last three days; preparing for an election, and the rioting will I dare say be pretty rough then.2 I don’t feel very hopeful about that either; it seems to me that the politicians still play too much politics. And I am rather anxious about the coming winter in America too; and it is far more worrying and exasperating to think of such unsettlement going on where you are, when I cannot be there too, than to expect it here.

And where, I wonder, is Emily at the moment? I am very glad that the summer was on the whole, a successful one. I am afraid that there are places that you have come to like better than Boston.

Your devoted

1.Bennett wrote on 24 Sept. 1931: ‘I’m afraid you must think me most ungrateful for not writing sooner, as Miss Hale tells me that she wrote to you some time ago about my poems. I have been away, however, and left the poems with Miss Hale so that she could advise me what to send. She thought I ought to include one or two of the published ones so I am doing so.

‘I feel very grateful indeed to Miss Hale for her kindness in introducing me to you, and shall greatly appreciate any advice you can give me as to where I might place a few of my poems in England’.

2.The General Election was held on Tues., 27 Oct. 1931. Victory went to the National Government: the Conservatives won an unprecedented 470 seats.

Bennett, Dilys, TSE looks forward to meeting, then promises to consider poems by, which he delivers verdict on, then writes to,

1.DilysBennett, Dilys Bennett (1906–60), poet and author. Born in Wales, she married in 1936 Alexander Laing, a Dartmouth College academic, and became an American citizen. Works include Another England (New York, 1941) and The Collected Poems of Dilys Laing (Cleveland, 1967).

British General Election, 1931, 1936, and the value of sterling, 1945, its political terrain, TSE fears Labour Party's agenda, but welcomes change of government, 1951,
Woolf, Virginia, the only woman TSE sees alone, characteristic letter from, her snobbery, TSE's most trusted female friend, TSE underrates, on the Eliots' Rodmell visit, as estate agent, her letters, as novelist, apparently drained by Lady Colefax, and Lytton Strachey's death, compared qua friend to OM, recounts TSE's practical jokes, her feminism, her anecdote of Bostonian snobbery, on 9 Grenville Place, TSE treasures but never reads, on TSE visiting Rodmell, EH taken to tea with, described by EH, on meeting EH, on Murder in the Cathedral, after 'long illness', represents TSE at OM's funeral, records TSE on Family Reunion, on TSE's wartime Sussex stay, on wartime dinner with TSE, her death, TSE strikes as conceited, TSE's scheduled final visit to, two journals vie for TSE's tribute to, TSE's tribute to, esteemed by Walpole, her absence at Rodmell, air-stewardess asks TSE about, A Room of One's Own, Jacob's Room, The Waves,

1.VirginiaWoolf, Virginia Woolf (1882–1941), novelist, essayist and critic: see Biographical Register.

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,