TS Eliot Widow Exults in His Poetry Reading

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Byline: geordiegreig

IN A rare public appearance, TS Eliot's widow Valerie attended a reading of her husband's poems last night at the University of London.

"It was marvellous to hear Tom's poems and to have them read so well," she said. It is 86 years since TS Eliot published The Waste Land, revolutionising English poetry and making him its greatest 20th-century exponent.

The readers were Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, actor Jeremy Irons, The Wire's star Dominic West and actress Anna Cartaret as part of the TS Eliot International Summer School.

It is more than 44 years since Valerie Eliot was widowed and she has been the sole executor of his literary estate ever since, allowing Andrew Lloyd Webber to use her husband's feline verse for the musical Cats which effectively bankrolled Faber & Faber as the music became a global hit.

The reading in the Brunei Gallery was organised by Josephine Hart, who has pioneered public poetry readings at the British Library and recorded CDs of verse read by Harold Pinter, Ralph Fiennes, Roger Moore, Edward Fox and other great British actors, with a CD and book given to every secondary school. …