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Readers’ Day: The Waste Land with Prof. Mark Ford

T. S. Eliot
This day-long session led by Mark Ford, poet and Professor of English at University College London, will give you the tools for critical analysis and appreciation of The Waste Land through close reading and discussion. When you book for this event, you will receive an email confirmation along with a promotional code to use on our website for 20% off The Waste Land Facsimile.

4 in stock

10:00 am
Maximum Events Attendees
About the Event

Join Mark Ford, poet and Professor of English at University College London, for this day-long investigation into why The Waste Land continues to be regarded as arguably the most important work of poetry of the twentieth century. Mark will give you the tools for critical analysis and appreciation through close reading and discussion, leading you through the poem’s historical, social and political context, autobiographical elements, literary allusions and stylistic innovations. With a mixture of taught sessions and group discussions, participants will be encouraged to explore their responses to the poem as well as their experiences of the work of Eliot more generally.

This course takes place over a full Saturday at Faber’s London offices in Bloomsbury.

Further Details

This session is designed for the general reader –  those who wish to learn more about this important work. No prior knowledge is required, but please read the poem in advance. Numbers are limited to 18.

We will cover:

  • The composition of the poem in 1921/22 in London / Margate / Lausanne / Paris
  • The relationship between the drafts and the finished poem
  • Ezra Pound’s editing of the manuscript and the responses of Vivienne Eliot
  • The influence of James Joyce’s Ulysses and of the various sources referenced in the Notes
  • Its use of collage
  • Its characters, from Marie to Tiresias to the Fisher King
  • Its place in Eliot’s oeuvre
  • Its publishing history
  • Recent interpretations of the poem


The morning session will focus on the text, its composition and drafts, its form and structure, influences and characters.


Lunch break


The afternoon session will concentrate on the poem’s place within Eliot’s wider work, its reception and legacy.

About Mark Ford

Mark Ford was born in 1962 in Nairobi, Kenya. He has written four collections of poetry: Landlocked (Chatto & Windus,1992), Soft Sift (Faber & Faber, 2001), Six Children (Faber & Faber, 2011), and Enter, Fleeing (Faber & Faber, 2018). He has also published two monographs, Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams (Faber & Faber, 2000) and Thomas Hardy: Half a Londoner (Harvard University Press, 2016), and is the editor of the anthology London: A History in Verse (Harvard University Press, 2012). His most recent collection of essays, This Dialogue of One: Essays on Poets from John Donne to Joan Murray (Eyewear, 2014), was awarded the Poetry Foundation’s 2015 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism. He is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement and the New York Review of Books. A selection of his poetry is available here; and an ongoing series of podcasts made with Seamus Perry about twentieth-century poets is available on the London Review of Books website.

What to Expect

This is an in-person event which will take place at our London offices, Bloomsbury House, 74–77 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DA.

To ensure the wellbeing of all our guests and staff within the building, we would advise taking a Lateral Flow Test within 24 hours prior to your arrival at Bloomsbury House.

We ask that you wear a mask when using the common areas – this includes when travelling to and from your classroom and using the bathrooms. We have QR codes you can scan with the official NHS Track and Trace app should you wish to check in. Please note that this guidance may be revised in line with changes.

About the Author

Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St Louis, Missouri in 1888. He was educated at Harvard, at the Sorbonne in Paris, and at Merton College, Oxford. His early poetry was profoundly influenced by the French symbolists, especially Baudelaire and Laforgue. He settled in England in 1915, the year in which he married Vivienne Haigh-Wood and also met his contemporary Ezra Pound for the first time. After teaching for a year or so he joined Lloyds Bank in the City of London in 1917, the year in which he published his first volume, Prufrock and Other Observations. In 1919 Poems was hand-printed by Leonard and Virginia Woolf. His first collection of essays, The Sacred Wood, appeared in 1920. His most famous work, The Waste Land, was published in 1922, the same year as James Joyce’s Ulysses.

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T. S. Eliot

First ever full-colour edition of The Waste Land to mark the 50th Anniversary edition of the revolutionary poem by T. S. Eliot.