"Vital Truth is a priceless heritage": Emily Hale narratives released

21 Jan 2020 7:22 AM | Frances Dickey (Administrator)

Readers of this blog will be happy to learn that Princeton University has decided to make public Emily Hale's own narratives of her relationship with Eliot. A digital scan of her handwritten and typed versions are now available here in the finding aid for the Emily Hale letters written to T. S. Eliot

The library has also posted an explanation of the release here on the Manuscripts blog.

As you will soon see for yourself, there are two substantially different narratives:

  1. A handwritten statement introduced by a letter to the librarian, William Dix. In this letter she says that "I came upon the sheets of an Introduction of the Eliot letters which I wrote while I was in Princeton so long ago, and which have been “lost” ever since!" The statement, in pencil, is dated July 15, 1957, but that is presumably the date she copied, and perhaps added to it. This valuable early version of her narrative has to be deciphered from her handwriting, as there is no typescript. 
  2. A handwritten and several typed versions of a statement composed in 1965. One of the typed versions includes her emendations, such as the addition that "On one of his visits, we walked to nearby 'Burnt Norton,' the ruins of an 18th century house and garden. "Burnt Norton," as Tom always said, was his 'love poem' for me."

Enjoy reading, and thanks to Interim Director of Special Collections Dan Linke for releasing this important document!

The conclusion to Hale's pre-1957 narrative says it all:

Recognizing increasingly in this year of our lord 1957 Vital Truth is a priceless heritage in the world of letters or Mankind, to pass on to future generations, I bequeath this collection to a public perhaps yet unborn.  The length of time before it is made available is under Eliot’s insistence.  I have had much kindness and happiness of experience in this friendship—as well as inevitable [?] pain.  May the record speak, all this in itself.


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