Mary and Mr Eliot: A Sort of Love StoryMary 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 traveller - was 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, characterised by churchgoing, conversation, record-playing, daytrips with Mary at the wheel, Eliot is his shirt-sleeves cooking up sausages for dinner. Over the years, their friendship deepened in intimacy and ambiguity. She wished for more than those glasses of gin, the cheerful chats. And she came to believe it might lead to something more - so much so that she proposed marriage twice. Eliot led her to understand that any such commitment would be an impossibility for him - hence Mary's shock when his marriage to Valerie Fletcher, his secretary nearly forty years his junior, was announced, and his ongoing attachment to Emily Hale, his youthful love, revealed.
Trevelyan left a unique document - of diaries, letters and pictures - charting their twenty year long relationship. Erica Wagner has brought this untold story together for the first time. Mary and Mr Eliot is a revelatory portrait of Eliot. It also introduces us to a fearless and energetic woman sidelined by history, whose experience of unrequited love - joy, misunderstanding, betrayal - feels utterly modern, and deeply human.