The Hyacinth Girl

Lyndall Gordon


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Little, Brown Book Group
10 August 2023
ISBN: 9780349012094
512 pages

From the publisher

The revealing of the hidden muse - Emily Hale - the Hyacinth Girl of the famous The Waste Land poem - who influenced the life and art of TS Eliot.

Among the greatest of poets, T.S. Eliot protected his privacy while publicly associated with three women: two wives, Vivienne and Valerie, and a church-going companion, Mary Trevelyan. This presentation concealed a life-long love for an American: Emily Hale, a drama teacher who was the source of 'memory and desire' in The Waste Land; she is the Hyacinth Girl.

Drawing on the recently unsealed 1,131 letters Eliot wrote to Hale and suppressed in his lifetime, leading biographer Lyndall Gordon reveals both the hidden poet and the muse who was the first and consistently important woman of his life and art. Emily Hale was at the centre of a love drama he conceived and the inspiration for the lines he wrote to last beyond their time.

'Extraordinary... a rare work' COLM TOIBIN

'As exciting as a detective story' MARGARET DRABBLE

'Will change the way Eliot is seen' MIRANDA SEYMOUR