Eliot didn’t want his private correspondence preserved. He wrote to his mother on April 15, 1927: “I don’t like reading other people’s private correspondence in print, and I do not want other people to read mine.” But the judgment of posterity has gone against him. The first volume of his letters, published in 1988, documented his life, public and private, from June of 1898 to December of 1922; the second, published in 2009, told the implied story from January 1923 to December 1925; the third, newly published, takes it up again from January 1926 to December 1927.1

Those were two heavy years. Eliot’s wife Vivien continued to be ill most of the time with bronchitis, peritonitis, shingles, and other maladies: she was also afflicted with mental distresses,...


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