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Mary and Mr Eliot: A Sort of Love Story

Erica Wagner

A rediscovered story of unrequited love which reveals an intimate new portrait of the poet T. S. Eliot – and of its author, a formidable and passionate woman.

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‘Completely fascinating, revelatory . . . A classic of its kind.’ WILLIAM BOYD
‘Compelling . . . compulsive.’ MARGARET DRABBLE, NEW STATESMAN

T.S. Eliot and Mary Trevelyan shared a close friendship – twenty-five years in each others’ company: playing records; going for drives with Mary at the wheel; sharing dinners Eliot cooked in his rolled-up shirtsleeves; and attending church together. While Mary hoped it might become something more, the poet’s heart was elsewhere. Using a collection of diaries, letters and pictures Mary left behind, Erica Wagner brings together this story of an unusual friendship in this intimate portrait of T.S. Eliot and Mary, a formidable woman thus far sidelined by literary history.

Critic Reviews

A completely fascinating, revelatory exposure of a forgotten corner of T.S. Eliot’s amatory life – brilliantly curated, edited and annotated by Erica Wagner. A classic of its kind.

Critic Reviews

Compelling . . . Has the suspense of works of fiction . . . [a] compulsive page-turner.

Margaret Drabble, New Statesman
Critic Reviews

A not unfamiliar story: adored man and devoted woman friend, liked but never loved
and devastated by his sudden marriage to another. T.S. Eliot – great poet, bastard behaviour. Heartbreaking and wonderfully told.

Susan Hill, Spectator
Critic Reviews

Reading this elegant, clever and moving book is like looking at Eliot through a lancet window: we get a tightly-focused and revealing view of one of his most important friendships, and a valuable understanding of how it relates to the panorama of his whole personality. An exemplary ’sort of’ biography.

Andrew Motion
Critic Reviews

Erica Wagner has assembled the unpublished memoir Mary Trevelyan wrote about her romantic friendship with Eliot, along with the texts of the letters Eliot sent her and her diaries, and drawn them together with her own approachable, unpretentious narration.

Richard Davenport-Hines, Literary Review
Critic Reviews

[Mary and Mr Eliot] is more than a memoir of knowing a famous poet; it’s a dual portrait of a woman who hides nothing and a celebrity given to secrecy . . . How deftly Wagner transforms a scrapbook filled with gems into a revealing and ultimately tragic story.

Lyndall Gordon

Erica Wagner is an author and critic. Her books include Gravity: Stories, Ariel’s Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and the Story of Birthday Letters and Chief Engineer: Washington Roebling, The Man Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge. Literary editor of The Times for 17 years, she is now a contributing writer for the New Statesman, consulting literary editor for Harper’s Bazaar…

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