T. S. Eliot and Emily Hale

deadline for submissions: 
March 22, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Gabrielle McIntire / International T. S. Eliot Society
contact email: 

MLA 2021 in Toronto: T.S. Eliot and Emily Hale

Deadline for submissions:

April 1, 2020

Full name/name of organization:

Gabrielle McIntire, Queen’s University, Canada

Contact email:


“T.S. Eliot and Emily Hale”

T.S. Eliot engaged in a decades-long correspondence with Emily Hale that has been sealed at Princeton University since Hale made her bequest of 1,131 letters in 1956. Both Hale and Eliot were then still alive, and, in Hale’s words, she decided to have the letters “completely closed to all readers until the lapse of fifty years after the death of Mr. Eliot or myself, whichever shall occur later. At that time the files may be made available for study by properly qualified scholars in accordance with the regulations of the Library for the use of manuscript materials. To carry out this intention the Library is to keep the collection in sealed containers in its manuscript vaults.” T.S. Eliot died in January 1965, and Emily Hale died in October 1969. The collection opens for academic research on January 2nd, 2020.  

There is much mystery and excitement about the opening of these letters because, as Lyndall Gordon writes in one of her major biographies of T.S. Eliot, Eliot fell in love with Emily Hale in 1913, the year before he left the United States to live permanently in Europe, and, while they never married one another, the two continued a long, rich, and often romantic friendship until late in their lives. Hale visited Eliot every summer between 1934 and 1938—with the exception of 1936, when Eliot traveled to the United States and saw Hale there. Eliot spent time with both Hale and her family, introduced her to many of his friends, and she seems to have been under the impression that they were, in Peter Ackroyd’s words, “unofficially ‘engaged.’”

This panel, sponsored by the International T. S. Eliot Society for the MLA meeting in Toronto in January 2021, seeks to address the richness and complexities of this newly accessible archive by considering issues such as:

  • How do the Hale letters change our understanding of Eliot’s biography?
  • Who was Emily Hale?
  • The materiality of the archive
  • Intimacy, identity, and epistolarity
  • Nationalities: British and American
  • “mixing/Memory and desire”
  • Archive fever
  • Hale, Eliot, and gender
  • Revisiting Eliot’s poetry after the Hale letters
  • Impersonality
  • Hale and Eliot on Theatre, Drama, and pedagogy
  • Emily Hale as muse and/or icon
  • Burnt Norton/ “Burnt Norton”


Please send a 300-word abstract, plus a 1-page CV, by April 1, 2020 to Gabrielle McIntire at mcintire@queensu.ca

Gabrielle McIntire is Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at Queen’s University, Canada. McIntire is the author of Modernism, Memory, and Desire: T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf(Cambridge UP, 2008), and the editor of The Cambridge Companion to The Waste Land(Cambridge UP, 2015). She has also published essays on Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, Nella Larsen, history, aesthetics, psychology, and sexuality in journals including Modernism/modernity, Modern Fiction Studies, Narrative, Callaloo: A Journal of African American and African Arts and Letters, and the Virginia Woolf Miscellany. Other work has appeared in collections such as Futility and Anarchy: British Literature in Transition, 1920-1940 (eds. Charles Ferrall and Dougal McNeill. Cambridge UP, 2018), Virginia Woolf (ed. James Acheson. Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 1922: Literature, Culture, Politics (ed. Jean-Michel Rabaté. Cambridge UP, 2015), The Cambridge Companion to To the Lighthouse (ed. Alison Pease. Cambridge UP, 2015), The Blackwell Companion to Modernist Poetry (ed. David Chinitz. Blackwell, 2014), and Modernist Nostalgia (ed. Tammy Clewell. Palgrave MacMillan, 2013).