[No surviving envelope]

T. S.Eliot
Faber & Faber Ltd
Letter 36.
31 October 1944
Dearest Emily

I have no letter from you. I hope that my cable arrived in due time: I should like to know, as I sent it two days ahead, on the Wednesday morning. I wonder if you had your birthday celebrated for you in Boston at the weekend. I have no news of any moment: I have just had five days in the country, as I came back on the Thursday, and am going to town this week from Wednesday to Friday: I shall thus get only three days next time, but I think it is worth while sometimes varying the routine. NowWhat is a Classic?proof corrected;a8 that I have got the Virgil behind me, and the proof corrected; andBritish Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)European Service broadcasts TSE's talk;d4 haveBooks Across the Sea;b4 done my odd jobs for BAS and BBC (I recorded my little speech, and am to try recording it in French and German as well: this is Bobby Speaight’s ‘European Service’) IMurder in the CathedralHoellering film;g1TSE adapting for screen;a3 have had another look at the Murder scenario, and have actually drafted two (prose) speeches. Most of the additional words wanted are short sentences which might be either verse or prose; and there I have not much to do except to put Hoellering’s words into more muscular English: but there are, I think, a couple of verse passages wanted. This has been hanging over for me for two years or more; and I really must try to do it to oblige Hoellering, though there would be £750 advance royalties for me if the film were actually completed.

ITemple, William, Archbishop of York (later of Canterbury)his death;b2 have been depressed by the sudden death of the Archbishop.1 I often criticised his words and actions; I thought he had an able and facile, rather than a profound man [?mind]: he never struck me as a very strong man either; and his great affability had to me a rather chilling impersonality about it. The sort of man who would be (and probably was when at Repton) a very popular headmaster with schoolboys. NeverthelessFisher, Geoffrey Francis, Bishop of London (later Archbishop of Canterbury)compared to William Temple;a3, I think he was a much more important man than anybody who is likely to succeed him: and if his successor is (as many people expect to be) the present Bishop of London, that is a man whom I find decidedly less congenial than Dr. Temple – and I fear a narrower mind. ThisSecond World Warand post-war European prospects;e9 news coincided with aTrevelyan, Marydescribes situation in liberated Europe;a5 letter from Mary Trevelyan, who is at the head of the Y.M.C.A. in the Low Countries now, suggesting quite appalling conditions of demoralisation and starvation.2 IEuropeits post-war future;a8 doubt whether Europe will be in anything like what we should call order during the rest of our lifetime; and I only hope that Britain and America will be able to hold together for the next, difficult generation: but there are great difficulties to be overcome there too, I fear. IAmerican Presidential Election1944;a2 suppose that the presidential election is the only topic in your papers at the moment: it seems to be the current expectation that Roosevelt will be re-elected by a narrow majority.

HoweverSecond World Warprognostications as to its end;e2, the prospect of the war dragging through the winter has damped everyone’s spirits: and the destruction and waste seems [sic] more senseless than ever. I don’t think I have any particular reason of a personal kind for depression, as I am in excellent health: but one does wonder whether one’s own life too will ever come out into a patch of sunlight again. Yet, at the same time, one knows that at a time like this our personal futures cannot take a very important place.

MargaretBehrens, Margaret Elizabeth (née Davidson)cheers up Shamley;b8 Behrens is here again, which is cheerful. ThisCoker, Margaret Rosalys ('Margot', née Mirrlees);a7 coming weekend is going to be a crowded one, with Margot Coker coming, andMirrlees, Emily Lina ('Mappie', née Moncrieff);e7 a Christian Science lady, a protegée of Mrs. M.’s (whom everyone else finds boring).

And I feel very boring too. This is not a very suitable birthday letter, my dear!


1.William Temple (b. 1881), Archbishop of Canterbury since 1942, had died on 26 Oct.

2.MaryTrevelyan, Marydescribes situation in liberated Europe;a5 Trevelyan (Y.M.C.A./C.N.W.W, Army Welfare Service, 21 Army Group H.Q., B.L.A.) wrote on 8 Oct. that she had been ‘following in the wake of the German retreat the whole way. There were many tragic sights – Caen – Rouen – Amiens… peasants everywhere trying to collect what they could of their [illegible] possessions – wheeling them in perambulators and handcarts … Here it is not yet very safe & a strict curfew has to be observed. Sniping is still going on in the streets […] but the first excitement is dying down – there are going to be difficult days ahead […] In Rouen I picked up a gentleman friend, aged 15, called René. It was certainly love at first sight. He invited me to stay with his parents … René’s father said to me, when his wife and small boy had gone out of the room for a moment, if the English had not come we could not have lived through another winter! He was thin & hollow-cheeked himself. They had little to eat – even now. I gave them tea, soap & cigarettes. They have no tea. Cigarettes are made out of oak leaves & soap looks like a block of mouldy resin & doesn’t lather at all. Things improve as you go eastward, but in Normandy there is still no water, heat or light … Everyone accuses their neighbour of collaborations: the opportunities for paying off personal spites are manifold. Both the families I stayed with had listened every night to the French news from London on the radio, stuffing up windows & doors so that the Germans in the house would not detect them. Everywhere you see a curious mixture of strain & relaxation. The decent families I met hate the Russians … Chaos in every department of life remains […] In Normandy we lived a primitive life, to say the least of it. The worst trials were the cold, damp, mud – impossibility of washing & lack of light.’

TSE to Mary Trevelyan, 30 Oct. 1944: ‘What a wonderful letter, yours of Trinity XX. I have read it aloud here, and the Shambly family is consumed with admiration for you both as a letter writer and as a Man of Action. I am sending it on to your mother, after detaching the final section. What precedes will be grim enough, indeed. Such letters must be preserved for posterity, and I shall tell your mother so’ (Houghton).

See further Trevelyan, I’ll Walk Beside You: Letters from Belgium: September 1944 – May 1945 (1946): the volume is based on the letters that Trevelyan sent from Belgium and France to TSE – the unnamed ‘friend in England’ mentioned in her introduction. ‘During these months I have recorded my impressions in a series of letters to a friend in England, letters which I now have permission to publish. The letters are just as I wrote them originally, though I have now added place-names and a few other details which had, at the time, to be omitted owing to censorship regulations’ (p. 9).

American Presidential Election, 1936, TSE favours Roosevelt, 1944, 1952, TSE's English perspective on, 1956, and American foreign policy,
Behrens, Margaret Elizabeth (née Davidson), comes to lodge at Shamley, tends to Shamley hens, mainstay of Shamley sanity, does not spoil her dog, takes refuge from Shamley's dogs, reports on poultry-feeding manuscript, sequesters dogs for TSE's recording, makes vatic pronouncements on Operation Overlord, cheers up Shamley, jeremiad on Shamley, introduces Violet Powell to TSE, in Ilfracombe, settled in Lee, during Christmas 1945, departing for Menton, visited in Menton,

4.MargaretBehrens, Margaret Elizabeth (née Davidson) Elizabeth Behrens, née Davidson (1885–1968), author of novels including In Masquerade (1930); Puck in Petticoats (1931); Miss Mackay (1932); Half a Loaf (1933).

Books Across the Sea, TSE unwillingly president of, AGM, letter to The Times for, exhibition, reception for Beatrice Warde, The Times reports on, TSE trumpets in TES, 'Bridgebuilders', TLS reports on, and South Audley Street library, absorbed into English Speaking Union, final meeting of,
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), TSE's committee service for, its future discussed, TSE working on autumn programme for, TSE on educational broadcasting in general, Barbara Burnham production of Murder, lobbies TSE for next play, 'The Need for Poetic Drama', Metaphyical poet broadcasts for, 'The Church's Message to the World', Christmas Day 'Cats' broadcast, dramatic Waste Land adaptation, which is censored for broadcast, repeats 'Cats', plays Parsifal on Good Friday, broadcasts Hawkins interview with TSE, 'Towards a Christian Britain', 1941 production of Murder, Eastern Service broadcasts East Coker, broadcasts Webster talk, Tennyson talk, Dry Salvages, Poe talk, Dryden talk, Joyce talk, European Service broadcasts TSE's talk, TSE declines Christmas broadcast for, wants to record 'Milton II', broadcasts TSE's personal poetry selection, broadcasts Gielgud's Family Reunion, marks TSE's 60th birthday, Gielgud Family Reunion repeated, solicits TSE post-Nobel Prize, TSE's EP broadcast for, records TSE reading Ash-Wednesday, floats Reith Lectures suggestion, approaches Marilyn Monroe to star in Fitts's Lysistrata,
Coker, Margaret Rosalys ('Margot', née Mirrlees), described for EH, at Mappie's 80th-birthday celebrations, in Natal for Mappie's death, Wishful Cooking,
see also Cokers, the

5.MargaretCoker, Margaret Rosalys ('Margot', née Mirrlees) Rosalys Mirrlees – ‘Margot’ (b. 1898) – wasCoker, Lewis Aubrey ('Bolo') married in 1920 to Lewis Aubrey Coker, OBE (1883–1953), nicknamed ‘Bolo’, a major in the Royal Field Artillery. T. S. Matthews, Great Tom: Notes towards the definition of T. S. Eliot (1974), 126: ‘The married daughter, Margot Coker, had a large country house near Bicester …’

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,
Fisher, Geoffrey Francis, Bishop of London (later Archbishop of Canterbury), makes poor first impression, compared to William Temple,
Mirrlees, Emily Lina ('Mappie', née Moncrieff), taken round the Tower, invites TSE to Shamley, described for EH, offers to house TSE gratis, her religion, as horticulturalist, concerns TSE, her distress on animals' behalf, not an irritant, secures better gardener for Shamley, circumstances in which she offered TSE refuge, indifferent to enlarging acquaintance, engineers solitude at Shamley, surprises TSE with lobster and cigars, reduces TSE's rent, celebrates 80th birthday, abed and anxious, anxious about North African campaign, going deaf, boosted by son's promotion, receives offer for Shamley, theatrical by nature, TSE prefers being alone with, TSE's sense of responsibility to, spoils TSE on his birthday, aflutter over Christmas turkey, delighted by recording at Shamley, takes in hopeless cases, collector of recipes, pleased by TSE's lawnmowing, hankers after life in Menton, dreams of leaving Shamley, pulls out of selling Shamley, as landlady, frustrations with gardener, her aura, summons TSE to Shamley, during TSE's final Shamley Christmas, dying, still just living, dies following operation, Wishful Cooking,
see also Mirrleeses, the

3.HopeMirrlees, Emily Lina ('Mappie', née Moncrieff) Mirrlees’s mother was Emily Lina Mirrlees, née Moncrieff (1862–1948) – known as ‘Mappie’ or ‘Mappy’ – see Biographical Register.

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,
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,
Temple, William, Archbishop of York (later of Canterbury), consulted over 'Thoughts After Lambeth', invites TSE to unemployment conference, as administrator, sustains 'Intercommunion' correspondence with TSE, unworthy of his see, incorrigible signatory, careless enthusiast, TSE writes talk on education for, his death,

10.WilliamTemple, William, Archbishop of York (later of Canterbury) Temple (1881–1944), Anglican clergyman, Archbishop of York and later of Canterbury: see Biographical Register.

Trevelyan, Mary, recalling TSE's foggy adventure, and Student Movement House, describes situation in liberated Europe, reports from liberated Belgium, returns to London, smuggles TSE's whisky into hospital, significance of VHE's death explained to, TSE describes relationship with EH to, a 'kindly thorn',

2.MaryTrevelyan, Mary Trevelyan (1897–1983), Warden of Student Movement House, worked devotedly to support the needs of overseas students in London (her institution was based at 32 Russell Square, close to the offices of F&F; later at 103 Gower Street); founder and first governor of International Students House, London. Trevelyan left an unpublished memoir of her friendship with TSE – ‘The Pope of Russell Square’ – whom she long desired to marry. See further Biographical Register.

What is a Classic?, begun, drafted, rewritten for publication, enjoyable to write, proof corrected, sent to EH,