Thursday, September 3, 2009

TS Eliot a Champion of Lesbian Literature

Poet-playwright TS Eliot will be shown as a champion of lesbian fiction and compassionate father figure to struggling writers, when a new exhibition opens at the British Library next month.

According to reports, letters written by him as a publisher at Faber and Faber suggest that he risked the wrath of the British authorities to bring out Nightwood, one of the first lesbian novels ever written.

The previously unseen correspondence shows that Eliot thought the 1936 book, by Djuna Barnes, was “the last big thing to be done in our time”.

Also to be exhibited are excerpts from a diary that Ted Hughes wrote in the 1960s, which refer to the poet as “the Guru-in-chief” and describe the older Eliot as a “father figure”.

Media reports are suggesting that Eliot’s letters to his three-year-old godson, descriptions of his role as a fire warden during the Blitz, and stories about his wartime problems with paper and ink shortages all paint a striking new image of a man with a benevolent, compassionate side.

Eliot's reputation has previously suffered because of his apparent anti-semitism.

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