The Chronicle of Higher Education
November 24th, 2014
The first letter was dated June 19, 1970. "Dear Mrs. Eliot," it began.
The recipient was Valerie Eliot, widow of T.S. Eliot. The writer was
Ronald Schuchard, a young literature scholar. "I have been researching
Mr. Eliot’s lesser known writings for over three years," he wrote, "and I
have written a master’s thesis and a doctoral dissertation on my
He asked for permission to read some of Eliot’s unpublished writing,
permission that could be granted only by Mrs. Eliot, who controlled the
So commenced a correspondence, and eventually a friendship, between
an extremely patient academic and a woman known for fiercely
protecting—some might say overprotecting—the papers of the revered poet
who ushered in High Modernism.