The Fall of a Sparrow

Ann Pasternak Slater

The first biographical account of T. S. Eliot’s first wife Vivien to be presented alongside her original writings.

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The Vivien Eliot Papers is a groundbreaking new biography of Vivien Eliot, comprising two sections: her Life and her Papers. Based on a rich repository of primary evidence, much only recently uncovered, it corrects the accidental inaccuracies and deliberate distortions that have circulated around one of Bloomsbury’s most gossiped-about, enigmatic couples, while unveiling fascinating new discoveries that give a more balanced understanding of both partners. For the first time, too, immaculate texts of Vivien’s own writing are presented, carefully distinguished from Eliot’s input, which demonstrate a fresh and wry talent all of her own.

Critic Reviews

Ann Pasternak Slater’s great and terrible new biography …. Sympathetic but clear-eyed, The Fall of a Sparrow sets the record straight … a remarkable feat of scholarship …. It is impossible to read The Fall of a Sparrow without feeling immense pity for both [Vivien and T S Eliot]. Slater is a superb Dante through this Purgatory, and a fine prose stylist.

Tristram Fane Saunders, Daily Telegraph
Critic Reviews

Few have tried to understand [Vivien] with such depth and such sympathetic insight … This meticulous biography… likely to be definitive … Slater is fair to a fault … a monumental work.

Brian Appleyard, Sunday Times
Critic Reviews

‘In this forceful biography Ann Pasternak Slater crushes misconception, understanding Vivien for the first time as a talented, brainy woman … who pushed the poet to greatness.’

Lucy Atkins, Times Best Books 2020
Critic Reviews

’Scrupulously researched … super-detailed … superbly written’

Ian Thomson, Evening Standard
AnnPasternak Slater

Ann Pasternak Slater is a literary scholar, translator and Senior Research Fellow in English at St Anne’s College, Oxford. She has written books on Shakespeare and Evelyn Waugh, edited the works of George Herbert and Evelyn Waugh, and translated Tolstoy and Pasternak. She is a contributing editor on the board of the 42-volume scholarly edition of The Complete Works of…

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AnnPasternak Slater