The Letters of T. S. Eliot (Vol. 3, 1926-1927)

Stefan Collini writes:

Overwhelmingly, these letters give us Eliot as editor. In 1922 he had become the (unpaid) founding editor of the Criterion, conceived as a serious highbrow literary quarterly subsidised by the arts-dabbling socialite Lady Rothermere, wife of the younger of the Harmsworth press barons. He had quickly made it both the leading journal for mainstream modernism in literature and the home of an anti-liberal, anti-romantic form of classicism in culture and politics more generally. The journal was put on a new business footing following his move in mid-1925 from Lloyds Bank to Faber and Gwyer (and he was paid a salary), though Lady Rothermere remained co-proprietor. Relaunched early in 1926 as the New Criterion, it continued to make a loss, leading to the experiment of appearing as a monthly early in 1927. This involved more editorial labour but brought scarcely any greater commercial success, and at the end of 1927 relations with Lady Rothermere, who had long been disappointed that the journal wasn’t more of a chic high-society arts magazine, reached a crisis. She withdrew her support, and contributors were told in early December that the journal might have to cease publication.

(LRB 30 August 2012)

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