TRIBUTES have been paid to Valerie Eliot, the widow of poet TS Eliot, who has passed away, aged 86.
Following the poet’s death in 1965, Valerie Eliot became literary executor of her husband’s estate and over the years guarded his legacy closely.
She had been working as a secretary at the London publishing house, Faber & Faber, where TS Eliot was a director, when the pair met. Despite the Nobel literature laureate being forty years older, they fell in love and were married.
As literary executor, Valerie Eliot held faithfully to her husband’s instructions that no help should be given to would-be biographers.
However, she won praise for her devoted work in helping scholars gain added insight into her husband’s life by editing a number of volumes of his letters.
She also annotated and edited the 1971 publication of the manuscript drafts of her husband’s masterpiece, The Waste Land.
One of her most astute decisions, regarding the literary estate, was to grant permission to Andrew Lloyd Webber to adapt TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats for the musical Cats.
The show was an international hit and the resulting royalties enabled Valerie Eliot to establish a trust which funds the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry as well as providing support for many arts and literary charities.
To view a reading by Fiona Shaw of TS Eliot’s A Dedication To My Wife at a function which was attended by Valerie Eliot, click here.
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