Hale/Eliot Letters

Recovering Emily Hale's voice by cataloguing T.S. Eliot's letters to her

The recently opened Emily Hale Letters from T.S. Eliot collection held by Princeton University Library Special Collections is of great interest to both scholars and the public due to Eliot’s fame and the previously unknown details about his relationship with Hale, as evidenced by the many news articles about the collection’s opening and continued interest in Frances Dickey’s Reports from the Emily Hale Archive.

There are distinct trends over the course of the correspondence, including the frequency of correspondence and in changes in tone, which seem to be evident in the salutations. A catalog of known letters from Hale will provide some sense of the reciprocity and frequency of their correspondence; but creating it is also an act of recovery to partially undo Eliot’s erasure of Hale’s voice by burning her letters. Salutations in the early letters are quite romantic and effusive. Examples include: “My dear saint”, “My dearest Lady”, “Dove always,” “Dear Princess”, and “My only love.” Later letters are familiar but show less variety.

This dataset may also serve as a starting point for applying other computational and collections-as-data approaches to these materials. These approaches could identify similar or unusual letters within this collection, answer questions about how different Eliot’s letters to Hale are from his other correspondence or his writing more broadly.

 

Images of letters and envelopes from the Emily Hale Letters from T.S. Eliot, Princeton University Library

CDH Grant History

  • 2020–2021 Dataset Curation