TS Eliot – Famous Faces on Cheyne Walk, Chelsea
Number 19 Cheyne Walk was a block of flats that hosted a number of literary figures, one of which was the famous renowned poet and playwright TS Eliot.
TS Eliot was an American-English poet, playwright, literary critic, and editor, a leader of the Modernist movement in poetry in such works as The Waste Land (1922) and Four Quartets (1943).
Eliot exercised a strong influence on Anglo-American culture from the 1920s until late in the century. His experiments in diction, style, and versification revitalized English poetry, and in a series of critical essays, he shattered old orthodoxies and erected new ones.
The publication of Four Quartets led to his recognition as the greatest living English poet and man of letters, and in 1948 he was awarded both the Order of Merit and the Nobel Prize for Literature.
TS Eliot moved into 19 Cheyne Walk, then called Carlyle Mansions, with his loyal friend John Hayward from 1946 until 1957.
While Hayward shared a home with TS Eliot, he began gathering and archiving Eliot’s papers and styling himself ‘Keeper of the Eliot Archive’.
Eliot’s book of verse called Poems Written in Early Youth was compiled and edited by Hayward. With Eliot’s help he emended the poems from The Harvard Advocate and added the poems from Eliot’s days at St. Louis’ Smith Academy, plus the previously unpublished “The Death of Saint Narcissus”.
This friendship was eventually strained by Eliot’s unexpected marriage in January 1957 to his secretary Esmé Valerie Fletcher. To a large extent, she took over Hayward’s functions in Eliot’s life after they separated their households.
Hayward died he died in 1965, a few months after Eliot. He bequeathed his entire collection of the literary manuscripts of TS Eliot to King’s College, Cambridge.