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Mary and Mr. Eliot
Mary and Mr. Eliot by ​Mary Trevelyan and ​Erica Wagner
by ​Mary Trevelyan and ​Erica Wagner

Price: $30.00


New York, NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (March 2023)


As new in dust jacket.

Mary and Mr. Eliot is a twin portrait of T. S. Eliot and its author, the formidable Mary Trevelyan.

In 1938, as T. S. Eliot was establishing himself as "a Classic in his lifetime," he struck up a friendship with Mary Trevelyan. This passionately curious woman—an intrepid traveler—was the warden of the Student Movement House, mere yards from the poet and editor's office at Faber & Faber in Bloomsbury. Their relationship was domestic rather than artistic, characterized by churchgoing, conversation, record-playing, day trips with Mary at the wheel, Eliot in his shirtsleeves cooking up sausages for dinner. Over the years, their friendship deepened, and she came to believe it might grow into something more. Eliot led her to understand that any such commitment would be an impossibility for him. Then the revelation of his attachment to Emily Hale—and the shock of his marriage to his secretary Valerie Fletcher—caused a rupture between Trevelyan and the poet that could not be overcome.

Trevelyan left a unique document in her vivid prose—of diaries, letters, and pictures—charting their twenty-year relationship. Erica Wagner has brought this untold story together for the first time. Mary and Mr. Eliot is a revelatory tale of joy, misunderstanding, and betrayal that feels utterly modern and deeply human.

Mary Trevelyan (1881–1966) was heavily involved in charitable works and was an influential commentator on British culture and society. From 1938 to 1957, she was a close friend and companion of T. S. Eliot's, a period about which she wrote in her unpublished manuscript The Pope of Russell Square.

Erica Wagner is an author and critic. Her books include Gravity: Stories; Ariel's Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and the Story of "Birthday Letters"; and Chief Engineer: Washington Roebling, the Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge. The literary editor of the London Times for seventeen years, she is now a contributing writer for the New Statesman and a consulting literary editor for Harper's Bazaar.

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