Collection of Thomas Eliot’s letters sold at Bonhams

Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888–1965)

A collection of letters written by famous American-born poet Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888–1965) to a beloved godson was sold at Bonhams auction on Tuesday, September 20 for $82,300.

At the Bonhams sales buyers were able to bid for series of largely unpublished letters to Tom Faber. Tom Faber, who later became a Cambridge University physicist and died in 2004, was Eliot’s first godchild and the son of his friend and publisher Geoffrey Faber. A series of 50 typed letters sent to Tom were signed «Uncle Tom» and revealed a humorous side to the poet. The letters includes poems and illustrations that formed the basis of Eliot’s 1939 children’s book «Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats», which was dedicated to Faber. It went on to inspire the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical «Cats». The collection had been valued at between $45,000 and $54,000. One buyer bought the entire set.

The auction included 84 other letters from Eliot to Tom’s mother Enid Faber, which sold for $99,620 to a different bidder. The also sale included a first edition of Eliot’s classic poem «The Waste Land», inscribed by the poet, sold for $58,500. With the letters and other inscribed first editions the collections totaled $438,000.

American-born Thomas Stearns Eliot spent much of his life in Britain as a poet, playwright and publisher with an austere reputation, based on his royalist, conservative, High Anglican church views. Born in St Louis, Missouri, in 1888, Eliot moved to London in 1914, where he worked as a teacher and a bank clerk. He died in 1965.

Published in: on September 21, 2005 at 12:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

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