Today is T.S. Eliot’s birthday. Eliot, one of the most influential Modernist poets, attracted widespread interest for his poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1915), which is seen as a masterpiece of the Modernist movement, and that deals with the thoughts of a sexually frustrated middle-aged man who wants to say something but is afraid to do so, and ultimately does not. It was followed by some of the most widely recognized poems in the English language, including The Waste Land (1922), The Hollow Men (1925), Ash Wednesday (1930) and Four Quartets (1945). He is also known for his seven plays, particularly Murder in the Cathedral (1935). He was awarded the 1948 Nobel Prize in Literature, “for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry.”
The University of Tulsa’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives holds the T. S. (Thomas Stearns) Eliot Papers Collection, which is divided into three series:
Series 1: Correspondence dates from 1918-1954 and is arranged alphabetically by surname. It consists of 23 autograph and typescript letters and 3 signed Christmas cards from Eliot to friends and colleagues including Stuart Latham and John Lehmann; 2 typescript letters from Mrs. S.K. Gussow to Eliot; and a photocopy typescript letter from Valerie Eliot to Garnerstone Press Ltd. in reference to T.S. Eliot: A Memoir, by Robert Sencourt.
Series 2: Writings dates from 1950-1959 and are arranged alphabetically by title. They consist of autograph and typescript draft fragments of Murder in the Cathedral, including a photocopy of Stuart Latham’s original production notes (See on-line catalogue record); programs for various theatre productions of “The Cocktail Party,” “The Confidential Clerk,” “The Elder Statesman,” and “Murder in the Cathedral,” as well as a printed copy of a memorial address given by Eliot in honor of William Collin Brooks.
Series 3: Miscellaneous material includes two photographs of Eliot, programs for Eliot’s funeral and memorial service, and an unveiling/dedication ceremony; program for a Stage Sixty Theatre Club production of a homage to Eliot featuring John Gielgud and Irene Worth; bookseller catalogues; keepsakes; and announcements.
Scholars from all over the world have made use of this collection throughout the years. Our department also owns three first-edition copies of The Wasteland, such as the one seen below.