At their passing in 1989 and 1993, respectively, the Misses Aimée and Rosamond Lamb bequeathed their family archive to the Boston Athenaeum, including a group of letters they and their mother Annie had received from their cousin, T. S. Eliot, writing mostly from England, from the 1930s until shortly before his death in 1965. The letters are chatty and affectionate, revealing a personal side to the poet, maintaining a warm relationship with his extended family. Dr Buchtel’s presentation will examine a selection of these letters, some of the photographs that accompany them, and examples of inscribed books from Eliot to his cousins. The talk will include a glance at their larger context within the Boston Athenaeum’s collections, including other T. S. Eliot holdings, manuscript materials relating to generations of T. S. Eliot’s New England forebears, and a taste of some of the Athenaeum’s rich visual documentation of T. S. Eliot’s beloved Cape Ann — not least, an 1817 woodcut depicting “A monstrous sea serpent, the largest ever seen in America” that “has just made its appearance in Gloucester Harbour.”
Dr. John A. Buchtel is Curator of Rare Books & Head of Special Collections at the Boston Athenæum, where he oversees the curatorial team, the exhibition program, and rich holdings ranging from medieval manuscripts to contemporary artists’ books. This Library Discussion is provided in association with Eliot’s Gloucester, an installation in the CAM Library & Archives from September 20 – October 9, 2022. Presented in partnership with the T.S. Eliot Foundation, the installation features relevant letters and photographs from Eliot’s time Gloucester. On view for three weeks will be items loaned from Harvard’s Houghton Library, the Boston Athenaeum, and our neighbors, the Sawyer Free Library.
Free and open to the public, registration required at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/library-discussion-ts-eliots-new-england-roots-tickets-421556305257