The Estate of T. S. Eliot, Faber & Faber, and the Institute of English Studies, University of London, are delighted to announce the commencement of the T. S. Eliot Research Project (1 March 2009). With three years of funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the T. S. Eliot Estate, the Project will co-ordinate, for the first time, the editing of the poetry, plays, prose and correspondence of perhaps the most influential writer of the twentieth century. The Principal Investigator is Professor John Haffenden, FBA (School of English, University of Sheffield, and a Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of English Studies, University of London). The total value of the award is £985,000.
Since Eliot's death in 1965 much of his prose has fallen out of print, while remarkable numbers of essays, lectures, introductions, reviews, and contributions to debates as varied as literature, religion, politics, education, publishing and cultural commentary, have never been collected despite international interest in a complete and annotated edition of his works. While scholarly editions of some of Eliot's poems have been issued - notably Inventions of the March Hare (1996) - most of the poetry has yet to be edited to the standards expected by scholar, student and general reader. The same holds true for the plays.
This Project brings together the work of a dedicated team of editors, co-ordinated by the Institute of English Studies, University of London, with the aim of delivering the volumes as soon as possible. The editions will correspond in terms of presentation, apparatus and supplementary materials. In addition, editors will have unprecedented access to the archival resources (both the library and a wealth of papers) owned by Mrs Valerie Eliot and Faber & Faber Ltd., and to Professor Ronald Schuchard's digital database (at Emory University) of the prose writings. They will also be using materials in T.S. Eliot collections, public and private, across the world. With the commitment and support of both the Estate and Faber, this will ensure that six volumes will be delivered for publication by the year 2012, with the Complete Plays (edited by John Haffenden) to follow in 2014. All are being edited or co-edited by British and UK-based scholars.
The Complete Poems in two volumes is being edited by Christopher Ricks FBA (Boston University) and Jim McCue (IES). Two of the seven volumes of The Complete Prose (General Editor Ronald Schuchard, Emory University) are being co-edited by Jason Harding (Durham, and Visiting Research Fellow, IES) and Iman Javadi (IES). These volumes will contain Eliot's literary and cultural writings of the 1930s and 1940s, including The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism, After Strange Gods, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, and other collections, together with a wealth of unpublished or uncollected prose of the period: essays, lectures, addresses, reviews, commentaries from his journal The Criterion, and letters to the press.
The first parts of this comprehensive series to appear will be two volumes of the Letters, co-edited by Valerie Eliot and Hugh Haughton. The new edition of volume 1, up to the end of 1922, will benefit from more than 20 years of new discoveries and scholarship, and volume 2 will take the story up to the end of 1925, the year Eliot joined Faber. Volume 3, edited by the General Editor of the series, John Haffenden, will cover the years 1926-1928.
The outcome of this combined enterprise will be authoritative, accurate and fully co-ordinated editions of the poetry, plays, prose and letters. At long last, readers will be able to see Eliot whole. Including scores of unrecorded and unpublished pieces in verse and prose, it will facilitate a thorough critical assessment, place his writings in new relations to one another, and facilitate the fullest appreciation of Eliot's genius.
The Institute's Director, Professor Warwick Gould, said "The mission of the Institutes of the School of Advanced Study is to promote research. Funding for large-scale international research collaboration is never easy to co-ordinate, and in this case the AHRC and the Eliot Estate have responded magnificently to transatlantic funding from the Hodson Trust, Johns Hopkins and Emory Universities, and help from the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center in Texas. The IES will also put in place this summer a T. S. Eliot International Summer School to provide research training for the new generation of Eliot scholars who will use these new editions."
Professor John Haffenden, Principal Investigator of the Project, comments: "This is to be one of the major editorial enterprises of our time. General readers and scholars alike have been eager for many years to read a textually definitive and exactly edited set of T.S. Eliot's works, including all of the poetry and the plays, as well as the many and wonderfully varied writings in prose (essays, reviews, commentaries, lectures and talks). T.S. Eliot is one of the key literary figures of the twentieth century, and the opportunity now provided by the Eliot Estate and Faber & Faber, and so generously funded by the AHRC, means that we can bring these eagerly-awaited volumes to completion within the forseeable future."
On behalf of the Estate of T.S. Eliot, Faber & Faber comments: "It is tremendously encouraging to have such support for the publishing plans that Faber and Estate have for the entire works of T.S. Eliot. This project lies at the heart of Faber's past, present and future."