The Hyacinth Girl

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Among the greatest of poets, T.S. Eliot protected his privacy while publicly associated with three women: two wives and a church-going companion. This presentation concealed a life-long love for an American: Emily Hale, a drama teacher to whom he wrote (and later suppressed) over a thousand letters. Hale was the source of 'memory and desire' in 'The Waste Land'; she is the Hyacinth Girl. Drawing on new material of the recently unsealed 1,131 letters Eliot wrote to Hale, biographer Lyndall Gordon reveals a hidden Eliot. Emily Hale now becomes the first and consistently important woman of life - and his art. Gordon also offers new insight into the other spirited women who shaped him: Vivienne, the flamboyant wife with whom he shared a private wasteland; Mary Trevelyan, his companion in prayer; and Valerie Fletcher, the young disciple to whom he proposed when his relationship with Emily foundered.