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The Family Reunion. A Play.
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ELIOT, T. S.

The Family Reunion. A Play.

Published: London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1939

Stock code: 81743

Price: £1,750

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This item is on show at 43 Dover Street (map)

First edition, first impression. Presentation copy inscribed from the author to his good friend and housemate Father Eric Cheetham on the front free endpaper, “for Fr E. S. Cheetham, with the author’s compliments, T. S. Eliot. 10.iii.39”. In 1934, after the end of his marriage and his return from a year lecturing in the US, Eliot moved to a boarding house in Coutfield Garden, Kensington. There, he began attending services at St. Stephen’s, “a fashionable West End church and one of the leading Anglo-Catholic shrines in England”, then headed by vicar Eric Cheetham (Harding, Eliot in Context, p. 308). As Eliot later wrote, “I think that Father Cheetham came to dinner there one night… In this way or some other, I became known to him as a new member of his congregation; and not very long afterwards he offered me rooms, which had become vacant, in his presbytery in Grenville Place. My circumstances at the time were somewhat unusual, and I shall not forget the sympathy and understanding with which he responded to my explanation. I remained his Paying Guest for seven years, first in Grenville Place and then in Emperor’s Gate, in a house of which he had rented the two top storeys” (Eliot, panegyric for Father E. S. Cheetham, St. Stephen’s Magazine, April 1959). Eliot had begun by this time to “live an austere private life characterized by personal discipline and by responsibilities to the Church” and Cheetham “asked him to become the vicar’s (or senior) warden, the highest lay position in the parish” (Dale, Philosopher Poet, p. 121). Though Eliot moved to new accommodations in 1940, he and the vicar remained good friends and clerical partners until Cheetham’s death in 1956. Two years later Eliot resigned from his position with the church but continued attending as a congregant, and when he died in 1965 his casket was allowed to remain in St. Stephen’s for a short time. An excellent association.

Octavo. Original grey cloth, titles to spine in red. With the supplied dust jacket. Spine rolled and tanned, cloth rubbed and dulled with some small spots, endpapers spotted; the jacket rubbed, tanned, and nicked: a good copy.

Bibliography: Gallup A33a.

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