Description: ELIOT, Valerie (1926-2012). A one-page typed letter, signed, on paper headed "Faber and Faber Ltd. Publishers," and dated "20th January, 1981," to F. N. P. Salaman Esq., stating, "Dear Mr Salaman, Thank you for your charming letter of January 9th. I am sympathetic to your request as I realise what an exciting film The Waste Land would make, and indeed some passages from the Facsimile edition could be added to advantage. But my husband did not like his images fixed on the page or in celluloid - indeed he felt so strongly about this that I feel I must continue to refuse illustrators of all kinds. Incidentally, I am a great admirer of Alec Guinness but if I had been able to authorise you to go ahead I think I should have insisted on your using my husband's own recording. I am sorry to disappoint you. With all good wishes, Yours sincerely, [signed:] Valerie Eliot, [typed:] Mrs. T. S. Eliot." On the verso is written, in a small, presumably secretarial, hand, "Copy to Caroline [illegible word]." Valerie Eliot has added, in her hand, "c/o" to "Faber and Faber Ltd." in the letterhead, a firm in which was she a major stockholder. She was married to T. S. Eliot from 1957 until his death in 1965, whereupon she became his executor. Perhaps surprisingly - given the contents of the present letter - it was in this capacity that she granted permission for a stage musical to be based on "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats". This would develop into Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit musical "Cats", which premiered in 1981. She donated all her proceeds from it to "Old Possum's Practical Cats" - a literary charity - and to funding the T. S. Eliot prize. Provenance: Nick Salaman (by descent). "Some time ago, I had the idea of making a film of The Waste Land in a deserted City of London using Alec Guiness's recording as the voice over. It seemed to me a most exciting idea to do this with the most influential and most famous poem of the 20th-century. It is a work that haunts us all (or should do). Of course, the only person who could give permission for this to be done was T. S. Eliot's widow but she was a jealous guardian of his vision - though on reading her kind letter you will see that she was tempted!" (Nick Salaman).
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