Friday, September 11, 2009

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Many writers have a day job to support their writing. For T.S. Eliot, his day job was an essential part of his writing. A new exhibition opening later this month at the British Library shines a spotlight on Eliot's career with publishing house Faber, and, before Faber, his position as a bank clerk with Lloyd's. Eliot was attached to his jobs and found them critical to his writing. So much so that when the Bloomsbury group arranged a fund to provide Eliot with an income of £500 per year so he could write without the constraint of a job, Eliot refused.

Rachel Foss, British Library's curator of modern literary manuscripts, explains that Eliot was embarrassed and irritated by the Eliot Fellowship Fund:

This idea that Eliot should be freed from the drudgery of work misses the point that he was actually very interested in the minutiae of every day life - he was a commentator on the quotidian, and really thrived on the routine of office life at Lloyd's and then later at Faber.
The exhibition—titled In a Bloomsbury Square: T.S. Eliot the Publisher—runs from mid-September through mid-December in the Folio Society Gallery at the British Library.

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