Volume of letters defy TS Eliot's cruel husband reputation

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London, Nov 1 (ANI): A series of letters has debunked the myth surrounding poet TS Eliot's reputation as an uncaring and cruel husband.

The letters mostly written by and to Eliot during the 1920s have revealed the American-born poet was often deeply concerned about his wife, Vivien's severe ill-health.

He was so upset with his wife's undiagnosed and debilitating condition that he even slammed her doctors, calling one a charlatan and another a "German brute".

He even wrote: "I have tried to kill myself."

In April 1924 letter his brother, Eliot said, "The last illness of V's has been indescribable. She suffered more in spirit than ever before. I have not been able to leave her for three months."

In a letter to John Middleton Murry, the novelist and critic, Eliot said his wife had been so ill that for three days she felt her mind had left her body.

He wrote of his own agony: "I have deliberately killed my senses I have deliberately died - in order to go on with the outward form of living."

In April 1923 he wrote to Murry that "Vivien was very ill indeed in fact for hours at the point of death. It is the worst time she has ever had - she just escaped by indomitable luck."

Two years later he sent his most despairing letter to Murry, where he wrote: "Must I kill her or kill myself?"

"I'm not sure how absolutely literally we should take this, but these and many other letters make clear his utter despair and agonising," Times Online quoted John Haffenden, in charge of editing the letters, as saying.

Haffenden said the letters go some way to vindicating Eliot after he was vilified in the play Tom and Viv.

He said: "These both [the play and the film] made out Eliot as a villain. These letters are a corrective." (ANI)

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