ELIOT (T.S.) Typed letter signed, to his fellow-publisher Roger Senhouse, 1952
Lot 69
ELIOT (T.S.) Typed letter signed, to his fellow-publisher Roger Senhouse, 1952
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Typed letter signed, to his fellow-publisher Roger Senhouse, of Secker & Warburg, refusing to puff a book of poems he is bringing out: "I sympathise with your desire to get all the publicity possible in launching a volume of poems, as I think I know as much about the difficulties of poetry publication nowadays as anyone in the business. But it is exactly for that reason that I cannot accede to your request. I am myself a publisher, and I think that my name is usually associated more particularly with the verse that we publish, than with any other department, and I think we are probably the largest producers of verse in London. I cannot write signed commendations obviously, for my own publications, since if I did it for one, I should have to do it for all, and equally obviously I am thereby precluded from giving to poetry published by other firms, the assistance which I cannot give to my own", one page, headed paper, red ink receipt stamp, 4to, Faber & Faber, 20 February 1952


  • 'WE ARE PROBABLY THE LARGEST PRODUCERS OF VERSE IN LONDON': Eliot on his position as poet and poetry-publisher. Roger Senhouse, the recipient of this magisterial exercise in tactful evasion, was – apart from being Lytton Strachey's last lover – co-owner of Secker & Warburg, the left-leaning firm who famously published Orwell's Animal Farm in 1945, after its rejection by Eliot and other publishers. But they were not known, as this letter makes clear, as publishers of verse. Contrary to their normal practice, however, in 1952 they did issue Europa and the Bull: Poems including An Easter Sequence, by W.R. Rodgers, a Northern Irish former Presbyterian minister who had worked with Louis MacNeice at the BBC (and whose poetry is still current, as witness a recent outing on Roger McGough's Radio 4 programme, Poetry Please). On the book's reissue the following year by Farrar, Straus & Giroux of New York, the famous American poet W.S. Merwin was to declare: 'at its advent in England Mr Rodgers was in some quarters hailed as a great poet... There is indeed in these poems a remarkable texture of image and diction, a prodigal facility of language, a lively sensuous ear, often an amazing precision of poetic observation. But the sense of words and the ear are disappointingly, sometimes offensively uneven' ('Four British Poets', in The Kenyon Review, vol. 15, No. 3, Summer 1953). See illustration at page 44.
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