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September 21, 2016 | Indianapolis, IN
LONDON (AP) — Valerie Eliot, the widow of T.S. Eliot and zealous guardian of the poet's literary legacy for almost half a century, has died. She was 86.
In a statement Sunday, the Eliot estate said Valerie Eliot died two days before at her London home after a short illness.
Born Valerie Fletcher in Leeds, northern England, on Aug. 17, 1926, Eliot was the second wife of the U.S.-born Nobel literature laureate. She met him at London publisher Faber & Faber, where he was a director and she a star-struck secretary who had been a fan of his work since her teenage years.
"I felt I knew him as a person" from his poems, she told The Independent newspaper in 1994, "and evidently I did."
The poet's first marriage, to the mercurial Vivienne Haigh-Wood, had been unhappy; she died in an asylum in 1947.
He and Valerie wed in 1957, and friends described the marriage as a happy one despite the almost 40-year gap in their ages.
Valerie Eliot later recalled that their routine included evenings at home eating cheese and playing Scrabble and trips to the theater.
"He obviously needed a happy marriage," she later said. "He wouldn't die until he'd had it."
After T.S. Eliot's death in 1965, Valerie became his executor, editing his poems and letters for publication and steadfastly refusing to cooperate with would-be biographers, in keeping with the poet's last wishes.
She did, however, welcome the unlikely idea of a stage musical based on a volume of Eliot's whimsical verses, "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats." It became the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical "Cats," a global hit that brought in huge sums for the Eliot estate.
Valerie Eliot used some of the windfall to set up a literary charity, Old Possum's Practical Trust. She also funded the T.S. Eliot Prize, an annual award for poetry.
She oversaw publication of a much-praised facsimile edition of T.S. Eliot's modernist masterpiece "The Waste Land" — whose bleakness was thought by some to have been influenced by his first marriage — and edited multiple volumes of letters that gave scholars new insights into the intensely private poet.
The latter was a long and unfinished project — the third volume of letters, published earlier this year, reaches only to 1927.
Valerie Eliot rarely gave interviews, but did speak to The Independent in 1994 on the release of the movie "Tom and Viv," which portrayed the poet's first wife as an adventurous spirit neglected by an unfeeling husband. Valerie defended T.S. Eliot against the allegation of neglect in his first marriage.
"Tom tried very hard and for a very long time to make a go of it, and he's never given credit for that, is he?" she said.
A death notice in the Daily Telegraph newspaper said there would be a private funeral at St. Stephen's Church, where the Eliots both had worshipped, near their home in west London.
JILL LAWLESS,Associated Press
Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
September 21, 2016 | Indianapolis, IN
Please accept my sincere condolences on the death of your dear love one. “And no resident will say: I am sick…” Isa 33. In this time of a loss of someone special in our lives be comforted to know God cares and will help us endure through his love with comfort and peace. We miss this talented person whom many no doubt respected and admired.
March 30, 2014 | GA
Hugh and Joy Spencr-Palmer send their condolences to the family of Mrs Valerie Eliot in their loss
December 03, 2012
I wish to express condolences to the Eliot family during this difficult time. Psalm 46:9,10
November 21, 2012 | FL
MAY THE GOD OF MERCY EXTEND HIS BLESSING TO THE ELIOT FAMILY........
November 20, 2012
My condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Eliot. May our heavenly Father comfort and strengthen you during this time.
November 17, 2012
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and gave everlasting comfort and good hope by means of undeserved kindness comfort your hearts and make you firm in every good deed and word.
November 15, 2012
My sincere Condolences to the Eliot Family. May the hearer of all Prayer,be of comfort and his loving-kindess comfort you during your grief. Psalm 65;2
November 14, 2012 | FL
May you find comfort and treasure the memories of your loved one. I send my sincere condolences. (Romans15:4)
November 14, 2012 | GA