Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Eliot, T.S. (Thomas Stearns), 1888-1965 and Hale, Emily, 1891-1969
Emily Hale Letters from T. S. Eliot
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1895-1965 (mostly 1931-1940)
14 boxes
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scahsvm): Box 1-14


Consists mostly of letters from British-American poet T.S. Eliot to Emily Hale (1891-1969), a teacher, actress, and close friend of Eliot's. Also included are copies of typescripts by Eliot, photographs, ephemera, and a brief narrative of the relationship between the two penned by Hale.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists primarily of letters by poet, dramatist, and literary critic T.S. Eliot to Emily Hale (1891-1969), a teacher, actress, and lifelong friend of Eliot's. Also included are a small portion of correspondence between Hale and others, as well as some photographs, ephemera, clippings, copies of typescript material by Eliot, and a brief narrative of the relationship between the two penned by Hale.

Emily Hale and T.S. Eliot first met in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while Eliot was working towards a graduate degree in philosophy. They struck up a friendship, and Eliot expressed a romantic interest in Hale soon after. Though Hale did not initially share that interest, they remained friends and stayed in close contact after Eliot moved abroad, corresponding frequently for decades. The bulk of the letters were written during the 1930s and provide a detailed account of their intimate friendship, as well as Eliot's work and personal life.

Eliot often enclosed other materials in his letters to Hale, such as photographs and letters he had received from friends and contemporaries (including literary peers such as Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound). In a letter from December 29, 1930, Eliot addressed this practice, writing "I shall from time to time slip in a note or letter to me from my acquaintances, as these do I think to help make one's life seem more real to another person." A number of the letters also include handwritten annotations and corrections.

Emily Hale's friendship with former Princeton professor and literary critic Willard Thorp and his wife Margaret is also evident from letters between the three included with the correspondence. It was partially at the urging of Professor Thorp that Hale wrote a short explaination her relationship with Eliot to be included with the collection when it came to Princeton. It was also because of Emily Hale's relationship with the Thorps and their connection to Princeton that she chose to donate the letters to the University. T.S. Eliot was not initially pleased with this decision, and his opinions regarding this are discussed in letters to Hale between 1956 and 1957.


Collection is arranged chronologically by type.

Collection Creator Biography:


T.S. Eliot, the noted modern poet, dramatist, and literary critic, was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He earned a master's degree from Harvard University, which is when he met Emily Hale in 1913. The two formed a close bond, and when Eliot moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 to begin his PhD studies (eventually becoming a British subject in 1927) they remained in contact, establishing a robust correspondence that would continue intermittenly for years. In addition to his writing, Eliot worked as a schoolteacher and a bank accounts manager before joining the publishing firm of Faber and Gwyer (later Faber and Faber) in 1925, where he worked for the remainder of his career. Best known for such poems as The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, and Four Quartets, Eliot was the recipient of the 1948 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Hale, Emily, 1891-1969

Emily Hale was born on October 27, 1891. She was an actress and stage director, and taught drama and voice instruction at Simmons College, Milwaukee-Downer College in Wisconsin, Scripps College, and Abbott Academy. She met the poet T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) while he was at pursuing a graduate degree at Harvard, and maintained a lifelong and close friendship with the poet, corresponding with him and routinely visiting him over several decades. Out of his reminiscing of their former relationship, Eliot composed "Burnt Norton" published as the last poem in his Collected Poems 1909-1935 (1936). Hale died in 1969.

Collection History


Gift of Emily Hale in 1956 (AM 15768). The letters were sealed until January 2, 2020, by agreement with Hale.

A handful of additional letters from T.S. Eliot to Emily Hale concerning the donation of the collection to Princeton were given to the library in 1957.


No materials were removed from the collection during 2019 processing beyond routine appraisal practices.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Chloe Pfendler in November 2019 with additional help from the rest of the processing team and Alia Wood '20. Finding aid written by Chloe Pfendler in November 2019.

Some arrangement imposed on the collection prior to 2019 processing by former library staff.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Researchers may be asked to use digital surrogates of material if more than one patron requests to use a box at the same time.

Conditions Governing Use

All material written by T.S. Eliot remains under copyright with the T.S. Eliot Estate but will enter the public domain January 1, 2036. The library has no other information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright. Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Emily Hale Letters from T. S. Eliot; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scahsvm): Box 1-14

Find More

Related Materials

Princeton University Library. Princeton, New Jersey. Emily Hale Collection (C1249). Two additional letters from T.S. Eliot.


Letter, 1930 December 29. Emily Hale Letters from T. S. Eliot; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

Subject Terms:
Actresses -- United States -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
Poets, English -- 20th century -- Correspondence.
Genre Terms:
Love letters.