Young Eliot: From St. Louis to “The Waste Land” was hailed as “exceptional” and “assiduous” (The New York Times). Robert Crawford’s meticulous, incisive scholarship continues in Eliot After “The Waste Land”, an invaluable record of the revolutionary modernist, visionary poet, and troubled man.
After being kept from the public for more than fifty years, the letters between T. S. Eliot and his longtime love and muse Emily Hale were unsealed in 2020. Drawing on these intimate exchanges and on countless interviews and archives, as well as on Eliot’s own poetry and prose, the award-winning biographer Robert Crawford completes the narrative he began in Young Eliot. Eliot After “The Waste Land”, the long-awaited second volume of Crawford’s magisterial, meticulous portrait of the twentieth century’s most significant poet, tells the story of the mature Eliot during his years as a world-renowned writer and intellectual, including his complex interior life.
Chronicling Eliot’s time as an exhausted bank employee after the publication of The Waste Land through the emotional turmoil of the 1920s and 1930s and his years as a firewatcher in bombed wartime London, Crawford shows us the public and personal experiences that helped inspire Eliot’s later masterpieces. Crawford describes the poet’s conversion to Anglo-Catholicism, his separation from Vivien Haigh-Wood and his happy second marriage to Valerie Fletcher, his editorship at Faber and Faber, his Nobel Prize, his great work Four Quartets, and his adventures in the theater.
Crawford presents this complex and remarkable man not as a literary monument but as a human being: as husband, lover, and widower; as banker, editor, playwright, and publisher; and most of all as an epoch-shaping poet struggling to make art amid personal disasters.
Named a Best Nonfiction Book of 2022 by The Washington Post
“Monumental . . . Crawford’s magisterial biography provides the fullest account to date of how Eliot transmuted his messy life and private struggles into art. Eliot may have strenuously promoted the influential argument that ‘it is not in his personal emotions, the emotions provoked by particular events in his life, that the poet is in any way remarkable or interesting,’ but readers of this fascinating, indispensable book will surely disagree.” —Andrew Epstein, The New York Times Book Review
“Mesmerizing . . . Crawford details, with remarkable scholarly evenhandedness, a life of almost soap-operatically ‘complex, contradictory messiness.’” —Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
“Robert Crawford completes his monumental life of T.S. Eliot . . . A deeply informed biographical narrative that offers fresh insights into one of the 20th century’s premier poets . . . Crawford’s biographical net is a wide one, and I was more than once surprised and touched by something new that enriches the ‘unpleasant’ Mr. Eliot into something other—richer and more strange.” —William H. Pritchard, The Wall Street Journal
"Crawford’s work is impeccable . . . The portrait of the poet’s final years is one of joy." —Erica Wagner, The New Statesman
“A rich study of the period from 1922 until Eliot’s death in 1965—years that contained much besides a complicated love affair. Crawford’s book offers new and well-arranged details about Eliot’s plays and wartime life, a steady handling of his Anglicanism and antisemitism, intensive studies of the distress of his first marriage and the delights of his second—all while remaining commendably calm about the Hale letters.” —Helen Thaventhiran, London Review of Books
“An authoritative life of a towering poet. After completing a two-volume biography (Young Eliot, 2015), Crawford continues his meticulous, perceptive examination of the life and work of T.S. Eliot . . . Exemplary literary scholarship." —Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Intimate . . . Crawford, himself a poet as well as a top-notch literary scholar . . . makes a strong case that suppression and sublimation of desire were instrumental in Eliot’s greatness.” —Brendan Driscoll, Booklist
"The completed portrait of a man who has been in the public eye for over a hundred years, but has never before been seen in quite this way." —Julia Hass, Lit Hub
"Magisterial . . . This book is properly complex, both in terms of the art and the life." —Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman
“Revelatory . . . Braiding piquant detail with rich analysis, Crawford illuminates the contradictions that make Eliot such a fascinating symbol of his times." —Publishers Weekly