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Letters from T.S. Eliot to Emily Hale, 1934 May-July
Collection Description & Creator Information
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.
- Archival Appraisal Information:
No materials were removed from the collection during 2019 processing beyond routine appraisal practices.
Access & Use
- Access Restrictions:
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 for Reproduction and 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. These materials may not be photocopied. Also, no self-service reference photography either with a camera, cell phone or tablet will be allowed of the Eliot materials. As such, no cameras, cell phones, or tablets are permitted in the reading room. For materials not written by T.S. Eliot, single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Inquiries should be directed to Special Collections Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. 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.
- Credit this material:
Letters from T.S. Eliot to Emily Hale; Emily Hale Letters from T.S. Eliot, C0686, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
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