The Life of Vivienne Eliot, First Wife of T. S. Eliot
By the time Vivienne Eliot was committed to an asylum for what would be the final nine years of her life, she had been abandoned by her husband T.S. Eliot and shunned by literary London. Yet Vivienne was neither insane nor insignificant. She generously collaborated in her husband’s literary efforts, taking dictation, editing his drafts, and writing articles for his magazine, Criterion. Her distinctive voice can be heard in his poetry. And paradoxically, it was the unhappiness of the Eliots’ marriage that inspired some of the poet’s most distinguished work, from The Family Reunion to The Waste Land. This first biography ever written about Vivienne draws on hundreds of previously unpublished papers, journals and letters to portray a spontaneous, loving, but fragile woman who had an important influence on her husband’s work, as well as a great poet whose behavior was hampered by psychological and sexual impulses he could not fully acknowledge.
Intriguing and provocative, Painted Shadow gracefully rescues Vivienne Eliot from undeserved obscurity, and is indispensable for anyone wishing to understand T.S. Eliot, Vivienne, or the world in which they traveled.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, December 2009
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