In this week’s Book Club podcast, we’re talking about the life and loves of the greatest poet of the twentieth century. Professor John Haffenden joins Sam to discuss the impact of the opening of an archive of more than 1,000 of Eliot’s letters to Emily Hale — his Harvard sweetheart and the woman who for fifteen years he believed to have been the love of his life. Was he really in love with her or, as he later claimed, simply imagining it? What does he mean when he says that marriage to Emily would have killed him as a poet? And what light does it shed on his poetry? John — who as the editor of T. S. Eliot’s collected letters is one of the first people to have had access to this trove — says that it’s an 'astonishing' haul, and shows Eliot opening up as never before.
The Book Club, what used to be known as Spectator Books, is a series of literary interviews and discussions on the latest releases in the world of publishing, from poetry through to physics. Presented by Sam Leith, The Spectator's Literary Editor. Hear past episodes here