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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 2560

Henry Ware Eliot T. S. Eliot collection


Collection of materials by and about the American-born, British poet T. S. (Thomas Stearns) Eliot. Materials were collected by his immediate family, especially by his brother, Henry Ware Eliot, Jr. Includes: original T. S. Eliot autograph manuscripts, correspondence, and biographical memorabilia; Eliot family papers; approximately 600 images; items concerning the history of the collection; and extensive printed materials and ephemera about the poet's life and work.


  • Creation: 1881-1994

Language of Materials

Collection materials are mostly in English, but also include some in German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, and other languages.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

The majority of this collection is not housed at the Houghton Library but is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.

Conditions Governing Use

Images linked to this finding aid are intended for public access and educational use. This material is owned and/or held by the Houghton Library, and is provided solely for the purpose of teaching or individual research. Any other use, including commercial reuse, mounting on other systems, or other forms of redistribution requires the permission of the curator.

Conditions Governing Use

Any requests to publish Eliot material must be cleared through Faber and Faber’s Permissions Department.


15 linear feet (39 boxes (including 1 portfolio box))

The focus of these materials is the life and work of the poet, T.S. Eliot, collected by members of his immediate family. Also included are Eliot family papers, especially concerning his immediate family, but also documenting their ancestors. These papers include: correspondence (by TSE and others), autograph compositions (by TSE and others), genealogies, biographical miscellany, images, clippings, pamphlets, theatrical programs, scrapbooks, and ephemera.

I. Correspondence: Most TSE and "Other correspondence" has been grouped into this series by the repository. Scrapbooks in other series have been left intact, and some still contain postcards and letters. The "Other correspondence" is primarily concerned with the assembling and donation of the collection.

II. Compositions: Most original compositions have been grouped here (by the repository) having been removed from other series in the collection. There are very few materials by TSE. "Other compositions" include writings by family members, especially Charlotte Eliot, Henry Ware Eliot, Jr., and Theresa Garrett Eliot.

III. Biographical and genealogical miscellany: This series contains sub-series groupings of manuscript materials, memorabilia, and printed ephemera relating to TSE, other individuals, and families. Some of these groups were established by the Eliot family and some established in the repository. The TSE sub-series includes report cards, clippings, Harvard College miscellany, financial records, a lease, theatrical programs, Vivienne Eliot miscellany, postcards, palm readings, Valerie Eliot miscellany, a bookplate, and other materials. The "family name" sub-series includes miscellany on the Chauncy family, Cranch family, Eliot family, and others. The sub-series by "Individual name" is mainly Eliot family members, such as Charlotte Eliot (1843-1929), Henry Ware Eliot (1843-1919), Henry Ware Eliot (1879-1947), Theresa Garrett Eliot (1884-1981), William Greenleaf Eliot (1811-1887), but does include others.

IV. Images: Includes approximately 600 images. All format types of images found in this collection were gathered and arranged into five sub-series: TSE, family name, individuals, buildings and locations, and images concerning TSE's writings. The series includes: photographs, cartes-de-visite, cabinet photographs, negatives, photograph albums, a film, a glass negative, photostats, drawings, and scrapbooks that primarily contain photographs. Images contained in news clippings were not moved to this series. Photographs are from TSE's childhood through his late adult years, and document all aspects of his life. Series includes photographs of TSE's immediate family, some ancestors, buildings and locations important in his life, and images from various productions of his plays, especially Murder in the cathedral.

V. Materials concerning the collection: Includes the typescript of the original index to this collection, compiled by Henry Ware Eliot, Jr. and Theresa Garrett Eliot, and the "Guest book" containing signatures of some readers of the collection from 1937-1969.

VI. Printed materials on TSE: This final series comprises the largest bulk of the collection, and is composed mostly of news clippings, especially reviews, concerning TSE's life and work. The description and arrangement was left in the order in which it was set-up by the Eliot family. It also contains ephemera such as theater programs, invitations, tickets, posters, obituaries, and many other items, some of which have autograph annotations by TSE, HWE, Jr., or TGE.

Biographical / Historical

Eliot, Thomas Stearns (1888–1965) was an American-born, British-naturalized literary critic, publisher, essayist, playwright, and one of the twentieth century's major poets.

Some of the major dates in the life of T.S. Eliot:

  1. 1888 September 26 - born in St. Louis, Missouri.
  2. 1898-1905 - attended Smith Academy, St. Louis.
  3. 1905-1906 - attended Milton Academy, Milton, Massachusetts.
  4. 1906-1910 - at Harvard College (AB 1909; AM 1910; class of 1910).
  5. 1910-1911 - at Sorbonne, Paris for postgraduate year.
  6. 1911-1912 - at Harvard University, Graduate School of Philosophy and Indic Philology.
  7. 1912-1913 - Assistant in Philosophy, Harvard University.
  8. 1914-1915 - Traveling Fellowship in Philosophy. Went first to Marburg, Germany, where he was caught in the outbreak of WWI. Went to England, where he studied at Merton College, Oxford.
  9. 1915 June 26 - Marriage to Vivienne Haigh-Wood.
  10. 1915-1916 - taught at London's Highgate Junior School and Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe.
  11. 1917 - literary editor for The Egoist.
  12. 1917 - 1925 - worked for Lloyds Bank in Colonial and Foreign Department.
  13. 1917 - published Prufrock and other observations.
  14. 1917 - published Ezra Pound: his metric and his poetry.
  15. 1920 - published Ara Vos Prec.
  16. 1920 - published The sacred wood.
  17. 1921 - London correspondent for The dial.
  18. 1921 - Suffered breakdown and rested at Margate and Lausanne.
  19. 1922 - published The waste land.
  20. 1922 - 1939 - edited The Criterion.
  21. 1922 - correspondent for Revue Française.
  22. 1924 - published Homage to John Dryden.
  23. 1925 - published Poems, 1909-1925.
  24. 1925 - became director at Faber & Gwyer (later became Faber and Faber).
  25. 1926 - delivered Clark Lectures at Trinity College, Cambridge.
  26. 1926- published Journey of the Magi (one of "Ariel poems.")
  27. 1927 - received into the Church of England and becomes British citizen.
  28. 1928 - published For Lancelot Andrewes.
  29. 1929 - published Animula (one of "Ariel poems.")
  30. 1929 - published Dante.
  31. 1930 - published Ash-Wednesday.
  32. 1930 - published Marine (one of "Ariel poems.")
  33. 1931 - published Triumphal march.
  34. 1931 - published Thoughts after Lambeth.
  35. 1932 - published Selected essays.
  36. 1932 - play performed Sweeney Agonistes.
  37. 1932 - published After strange gods.
  38. 1932 - 1933 assumed the Charles Eliot Norton Professorship at Harvard. Lectures published as The use of poetry and the use of criticism.
  39. 1934 - play performed The rock.
  40. 1934 - published Elizabethan essays.
  41. 1935 - play performed Murder in the cathedral.
  42. 1935 - published Essays ancient and modern.
  43. 1936 - published Collected poems, 1909-1935. Included Burnt Norton.
  44. 1938 - Boutwell lecturer at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
  45. 1938 - published A song for Simeon (one of "Ariel poems.")
  46. 1939 - Vivienne Eliot committed to Northumberland House.
  47. 1939 - play performed The family reunion.
  48. 1939 - published Old Possum's book of practical cats.
  49. 1939 - published The idea of a Christian society.
  50. 1940 - published East Coker.
  51. 1941 - published Burnt Norton.
  52. 1941 - published The Dry Salvages.
  53. 1941- published Later poems, 1925-1935.
  54. 1942 - published Little Gidding.
  55. 1943 - published Four quartets.
  56. 1947 January 22 - death of Vivienne Eliot.
  57. 1948 - published Notes towards the definition of culture.
  58. 1948 - awarded Nobel Prize for Literature and Order of Merit.
  59. 1949 - play performed The cocktail party.
  60. 1952 - published The complete poems and plays, 1909-1950.
  61. 1953 - play performed The confidential clerk.
  62. 1957 January - married Esmé Valerie Fletcher.
  63. 1957 - published On poetry and poets.
  64. 1958 - play performed The elder statesman.
  65. 1960 - received Commandeur de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
  66. 1962 - published Collected plays.
  67. 1962 - published George Herbert.
  68. 1963 - published Collected poems, 1909-1962.
  69. 1964 - published Knowledge and experience in the philosophy of E.H. Bradley.
  70. 1964 - received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  71. 1965 January 4 - died of emphysema at his home at 3 Kensington Court Gardens, London, at 5:35 pm; ashes interred in St. Michael's Church, East Coker, Somerset; memorial stone in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey.

A few of the primary family names associated with this collection are listed below, with relationship to T. S. Eliot, and the abbreviation used in this guide:

  1. Thomas Stearns Eliot, 1888-1965; known as T. S. Eliot=TSE.
  2. William Greenleaf Eliot, 1811-1887, paternal grandfather.
  3. Henry Ware Eliot, 1843-1919; father= HWE, Sr.
  4. Charlotte Champe Stearns Eliot, 1843-1929; mother=CE.
  5. Susan H. Hinkley; sister of CE, aunt of TSE.
  6. Ada Eliot Sheffield, 1869-1943; sister=AES.
  7. Alfred Dwight Sheffield, b. 1871-; brother-in-law, husband of AES; brother-in-law of TSE.
  8. Margaret Dawes Eliot, 1871-1956; sister=MDE.
  9. Marian Cushing Eliot, 1877-1963; sister=MCE.
  10. Henry Ware Eliot, 1879-1947; brother=HWE, Jr.
  11. Theresa Ann Garrett Eliot, 1884-1981; wife of HWE, Jr.; sister-in-law of TSE =TGE.
  12. Charlotte Eliot Smith, 1874-1926; sister=CES.
  13. George Lawrence Smith; brother-in-law, husband of CES.
  14. Theodora Sterling Eliot, 1885-1886; sister (died in infancy).
  15. Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot, 1888-1947; first wife.
  16. Esmé Valerie Fletcher Eliot, 1926-; second wife=known as Valerie Eliot.


Arranged into the following series:

  1. I. Correspondence
  2. ___A. TSE correspondence
  3. ___B. Other correspondence
  4. II. Compositions
  5. ___A. TSE compositions
  6. ___B. Other compositions
  7. III. Biographical and genealogical miscellany
  8. ___A. TSE biographical miscellany
  9. ___B. Genealogical and biographical miscellany by family name
  10. ___C. Genealogical and biographical miscellany by individual name
  11. IV. Images
  12. ___A. TSE images
  13. ___B. Images by family name (people and objects)
  14. ___C. Images by individual name (people and objects)
  15. ___D. Images of buildings, locations, etc...
  16. ___E. Images concerning TSE's writings
  17. V. Materials concerning the collection
  18. VI. Printed materials on TSE
  19. ___A. Articles on TSE by subject
  20. ___B. Reviews and other materials on TSE's works in general
  21. ___C. Reviews and other materials on TSE's early works, 1917-1934
  22. ___D. Reviews and other materials on Murder in the cathedral, 1935
  23. ___E. Reviews and other materials on TSE's later works, 1936-1948
  24. ___F. Reviews and other materials on The cocktail party, 1949
  25. ___G. Reviews and other materials on The confidential clerk, 1953
  26. ___H. Articles and ephemera on TSE's lectures in the United States
  27. ___I. Articles and ephemera on TSE's lectures outside of the United States
  28. ___J. Articles and ephemera on TSE's awards
  29. ___K. Articles, reviews, and ephemera on recordings of TSE's poetry
  30. ___L. Articles and ephemera on interviews with and personal stories on TSE
  31. ___M. Scrapbooks of clippings concerning TSE
  32. ___N. Miscellaneous clippings and posters, 1920-1964
  33. ___O. Obituaries and clippings after TSE's death, 1965-1994

Physical Location

Harvard Depository, pf, b, Vault

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Recataloged from: *AC9.Eℓ464.Zzx and *AC9.Eℓ464.Zzy in the fall of 2007.

No accession number. Original gift to Houghton Library by Henry Ware Eliot Jr. and Theresa Garrett Eliot; received: 1951.


This collection was begun by Charlotte Eliot, the mother of T. S. Eliot. It was added to by various family members, but especially by TSE and his brother, Henry Ware Eliot, Jr. In April of 1932, HWE, Jr. began sending Eliot House various TSE printed material that were bookplated: "Given to Eliot House in memory of Charlotte C. Eliot 1843-1929" or "Given to Eliot House on behalf of Charlotte Eliot's children, by Henry Ware Eliot, Jr." HWE, Jr. made an elaborate typed index for this material and continued to increase the collection until his death in 1947. After his death, his wife, Mrs. Henry Ware Eliot, Jr. (Theresa Garrett Eliot), kept up the cataloging and augmented the collection. The collection was moved to the Houghton Library in 1942 (when the library was built) for safety during World War II. In 1951 the collection was gifted to the Houghton Library. Members of the Eliot family have continued to add to this collection since that time.

Related Materials

For a full listing of Houghton Library's holdings of TSE and Eliot family materials, readers should consult online catalogs.

Some, but not all, of Houghton TSE materials relating directly to this collection are:

  1. TSE biographical miscellany, cataloged in HOLLIS as: pAC9.Eℓ464.N948d and pAC9.Eℓ464.N947d . "TSE. [Diplomas, honorary degrees, awards, decorations, etc.] 6 pieces. Various sizes, in file box."
  2. Materials on TSE reviews, etc..., cataloged in HOLLIS as: pAC9.Eℓ464.T970b. Browne, E. Martin (Elliott Martin), 1900-, compiler. [Collection of scrapbooks containing press notices and photographs, clipped from newspapers and magazines, of plays by T.S. Eliot directed by Browne: Murder in the cathedral (2 scrapbooks), The family reunion (1), The cocktail party (2), The confidential clerk (1 & a program for the New York production), & The elder statesman (2).] 8 volumes in file-box.
  3. Photographs of T. S. Eliot and his family can also be found in:
  4. ___ T. S. Eliot Miscellaneous Papers (MS Am 1691.3)
  5. ___ Theodora Eliot Smith Papers (MS Am 1691.15)
  6. Materials relating to the assembling of the collection can also be found in:
  7. ___ T. S. Eliot Correspondence with Houghton Library (MS Am 1691.5)
  8. ___ Correspondence and Compositions of T. S. Eliot and Henry Ware Eliot (MS Am 1691.6)
  9. ___ T. S. Eliot Additional Papers (MS Am 1691.14)

General note

The majority of this collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See access restrictions below for additional information.

Items (1) - (184), (186) - (221), (223) - (302) shelved at Houghton. Item (185) in Vault. Items (303) - (450) at Harvard Depository. Item (222) at Harvard Depository in cold storage.

Processing Information

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

The original arrangement and index to this collection was created by Henry Ware Eliot Jr. and his wife, Theresa Garrett Eliot, brother and sister-in-law of T. S. (Thomas Stearns) Eliot. The collection was partially redescribed and resorted in 2007 August-November; then entirely rehoused. The original index was turned into digital-text and used as the basis for the new description of the collection. When possible, the original descriptive text, written by the Eliot family, has been preserved.

It is not Houghton's usual practice to item-describe news clippings, but the Eliot family did so in their original index, so we have retained their unedited item description under series VI: "Printed materials."

In 2020-2022, as part of a conscious and inclusive re-description effort, entries were updated to include a woman’s full name when identifiable.

Processing Information

This finding aid was reviewed in 2024 to address outdated and harmful descriptive language. During that review, it was determined that a potentially harmful and problematic term describing Black Americans could be altered and reframed. Contextual notes were supplied for transparency. If you have questions or comments about these revisions, please contact Houghton Library. For more information on reparative archival description at Harvard, see Harvard Library’s Statement on Harmful Language in Archival Description.

Eliot, Henry Ware, 1879-1947, collector. Henry Ware Eliot T. S. Eliot collection,1881-1994: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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