The second volume of Robert Crawford's magisterial biography of the revolutionary modernist, visionary poet and troubled man, drawing on extensive new sources.
In this compelling and meticulous portrait of the twentieth century's most important poet, Robert Crawford completes the story he began in Young Eliot. Drawing on extensive new sources and letters, this is the first full-scale biography to make use of Eliot's most significant surviving correspondence, including the archive of letters (unsealed for the first time in 2020) detailing his decades-long love affair with Emily Hale.
This long-awaited second volume, Eliot After 'The Waste Land', tells the story of the mature Eliot, his years as a world-renowned writer and intellectual, and his troubled interior life.
From his 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 reveals the public and personal experiences that helped generate some of Eliot's masterpieces.
He explores the poet's religious conversion, his editorship at Faber and Faber, his separation from Vivien Haigh-Wood and happy second marriage to Valerie Fletcher, and his great work Four Quartets.
Robert Crawford presents this complex and remarkable man not as a literary monument but as a human being: as a husband, lover and widower, as a banker, editor, playwright and publisher, but most of all as an epoch-shaping poet struggling to make art among personal disasters.
Excellent... Full of voices, friendships and conflicts, Crawford's book is rich and dense as Christmas cake... [An] outstanding biography.
Young Eliot marks both a milestone and a turning point... [It] is judicious, sympathetic, meticulous.... The story it tells of a great poet's early life is enthralling.
[An] excellent account of the poet as a young man.
Crawford's case is sensitive and compelling, and his account - especially of Eliot's childhood and student years - is more richly detailed than any previous biographer's.... A powerful and enlightening book.
This is very much what a literary biography should be. It is likely to be a while before the next volume...but it will be worth the wait if it does what this first book does: to offer a credible and three-dimensional portrait of this most elusive figure.