100 Years: T.S. Eliot and The Waste Land

T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land is one of the world’s most popular and most studied poems, published 100 years ago in October 1922 in the first issue of the literary magazine, The Criterion. Our new exhibition celebrates the centenary of the publication of this remarkable poem with a display of archives and rare books from Special Collections and Archives.

 

Image of front cover of the first edition of The Waste Land by T.S Eliot - which has blue marbled cover papers

T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land, Hogarth Press: 1923.

The exhibition features a rare first edition of The Waste Land printed by the Hogarth Press, alongside the extraordinary portrait of T.S. Eliot by Patrick Heron, and the bust of T.S. Eliot by Jacob Epstein. We explore the history of the poem, what inspired The Waste Land, and how it was critically received. We also consider the role of the editor and contributions of Bonamy Dobrée and Ezra Pound to the manuscript of the poem, as well as the role of Eliot as an editor himself. We also explore the experimental poetry of T.S Eliot, Gertrude Stein and John Ashbery as part of the exhibition.

Our display highlights examples from the works of T.S. Eliot including unique material about his play “Murder in the Cathedral” with correspondence showing how the play was commissioned for the Canterbury Festival in 1935.

The T.S Eliot works are displayed alongside notable examples from the incredible Modern First Editions Poetry collection held in Special Collections and Archives. The items on display have been selected to highlight the significance of the collection and showcase some of the rare and fascinating small press poetry that forms the nucleus of the collection.

The University of Kent has a close link with T.S Eliot, having named our first College – Eliot College – in 1965, the year that T.S Eliot died. We are displaying some unique items from the Eliot College Archives that reveal the history behind the T.S. Eliot Memorial Lectures and the University’s T.S Eliot Poetry Prize.

The exhibition has been co-curated with the Department of English at the University of Kent, and we are grateful to all our contributors for their help and support.

With thanks to Dr Ben Hickman, Professor David Herd, Dr Paul March-Russell, Miguel Santos, Beth Astridge, Christine Davies, Clair Waller, Karen Brayshaw, Matt Wilson and Fran Williams.

 

The caricature of T.S. Eliot that features in the logo for the exhibition is by John Jensen, and was donated to the University in 1973 as part of a series of four representing the names of the four Colleges – Eliot, Rutherford, Darwin and Keynes.

 

2nd Annual Shirley Lecture

On the 12th October, the UK Philanthropy Archive hosted it’s second annual Shirley lecture, and first to be held in person on the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus. Following on from the success of last year’s online event where Dame Stephanie Shirley launched the series by talking about her life, and what has influenced and driven her philanthropy, this year saw Fran Perrin of the Indigo Trust speak on the importance of open data in the philanthropy sector.

Fran Perrin is the founder and director of the Indigo Trust, which works to fund access to justice in the UK and in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as tackling the causes of blindness in sub-Saharan Africa, and working to promote more effective grant making within the philanthropy sector. She is also the founder of 360Giving, a charity that helps foundations make their grant data freely available to support informed grant making across the sector.

Fran discussed the current issues around data availability, and how the lack of accountability and transparency is a rectifiable problem in the philanthropy sector. She also  spoke of her own journey through the philanthropy sector, including how her own experiences of giving money when there was little data to help inform her decisions drove her to found the charity 360Giving, how the work of 360Giving has made an impact on the sector, and the future plans for the charity. A fascinating example was the creation of the Covid 19 Grants Tracker, which allowed philanthropists to see where emergency funding was being given, which in turn allowed for informed decisions on next steps in donating. It shows geographical areas in receipt of donations, the type of recipients and givers, and the variety of amounts being donated.

Audio of the full lecture, plus the question and answer session that followed the lecture, is available to listen to on our website, alongside a transcript of the lecture.

Remembering Marie Lloyd

Friday 7th October, 2022 marks 100 years since the death of Marie Lloyd, one of the most famous and popular music hall stars of the late 19th and early 20th century and “Queen of Comediennes”.

Max Tyler Music Hall collection, University of Kent

Early years

Born Matilda Alice Victoria Wood on the 12th February 1870, Marie was the eldest of nine children. All of the Wood children would take their turn on the stage, performing together as early as 1879 as a minstrel act called the ‘Fairy Bell troupe’, with a number of her siblings going on to have successful careers in their own right.

In 1885 Lloyd made her first professional solo performance, performing as ‘Bella Delmere’ at the Royal Eagle Music Hall on 9th May, aged just 15. However, this name was quickly changed and by June of that year she was performing as ‘Marie Lloyd’. Despite not having the best of singing voices, Marie oozed charm and was a natural comedian, making her an instant hit. Her popularity continued to grow, and she continued to get bookings at halls across London, performing songs such as “The Boy I Love Is Up in the Gallery”, “She Has a Sailor for a Lover” and “Wink the Other Eye”. By 1891 Lloyd was a household name, pulling in large crowds at halls across Britain, and starring in the Theatre Royal at Drury Lane’s Christmas pantomimes alongisde stars such as Dan Leno. As her star continued to rise, her agent reported that Lloyd was fully booked up for years at the best houses across the UK, and that her salary ran from £250-£300 a week, sometimes as much as £700 a week at the height of her career. 

Reputation, charity, and controversy

Part of Lloyd’s appeal was that she did not appear on stage to be bound by the moral constraints of the time – her songs were cheeky and risqué, and she would play with the audience. However, this cheekiness did give her somewhat of a reputation. In 1895, Lloyd added the song ‘What’s that for, eh?’ to her act. The song tells the tale of a schoolchild who, when she asks her parents awkward questions, gets unsatisfactory answers. So she goes to her friend ‘Johnny Jones’ for help, and he teaches her the facts of life. And while the lyrics were not indecent, when Marie performed the song she was suggestive, winking to the audience and gesturing.

“What’s that for, eh? Tell me Ma
If you don’t tell me I’ll ask Pa”
But Ma said, “Oh its no thing shut your row”
Well, I’ve asked Johnny Jones, see
So I know now.”

The song and it’s performance was so controversial that it was cited as evidence in a hearing of 1896, when the Oxford Music Hall was threatened with having its licence withheld.

Max Tyler Music Hall collection, University of Kent

In October 1906 Lloyd was elected the first president of the Music Hall Ladies Guild. The organisation helped the wives of artists who were unable to perform and make money, providing food and resources to them and their families. They also supported young people, helping boys find work as messengers or call-boys. Some members of the Guild would use it as an opportunity to network and improve their social standing, however Lloyd did not have time for this pretentious self-promotion. She was well-known for her incredibly generosity and charitable giving, and preferred to have fun and entertain at Guild events.

Lloyd also petitioned for Music Hall artistes to have more rights and fair contracts. She used her clout as a well-known and celebrated artist to stand up for the community, and in 1899 she took a manager to court over a dispute with her contract, and won. This accomplishment was recognised by her peers, who presented her with gifts to mark her generosity in defending artist’s rights. She wrote in The Era “I am, and always have been ready and willing to help my brother and sister artists by every means in my power in anything that is for their good”. She was integral in developing the National Alliance, a group that wrote a charter that was sent out to theatre managers outlining the terms by which performers wished to work. The refusal by some to sign this charter led to a number of theatres being “blacklisted” by artists, and over two thousand performers taking to the streets to protest contract conditions.

1912 saw the first ever Royal Command Performance (later known as the Royal Variety Show) at the Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, with acts performing on stage in the presence of King George V and Queen Mary. To some amazement, Marie Lloyd was left off of the bill. According to Graeme Cruickshank in the Spring 2012 volume of The Call Boy, this was possibly at the direction of Alfred Butt, Oswald Stoll and George Ashton (producers of the show) in their attempt to make the show “family friendly”. Some thought it may also have been due to her association with the music hall strike, or that it was simply a case of balancing the bill and not oversaturating it with female comedic performers. In public, Lloyd took the slight professionally and with dignity, but there is evidence that she was furious – Alfred Butt even wrote to the palace warning that Marie Lloyd was to write to the King regarding her omission (although there is no evidence of her ever doing this). Possibly telling of her feelings on the matter, on the night of the performance Lloyd put on her own show at the London Pavilion in Piccadilly, and left for Paris immediately after that performance. Albert Chevalier (who was also left off of the billing) said of it “The whole arrangement as it stands is really extraordinary. Who is there more representative of the variety profession? Miss Lloyd is a great genius, she is an artist from the crown of her head to the sole of her foot…”.

Marie continued to perform throughout World War I, performing new songs, including some with a military theme. She also frequently visited hospitals to visit wounded servicemen, and toured munition factories to boost morale.

“Now, I do feel so proud of you, I do honour bright
I’m going to give you an extra cuddle tonight
I didn’t like yer much before yer join’d the army, John
But I do like yer, cocky, now you’ve got yer Khaki on.”

Despite all her charitable efforts throughout her career and during the war, Marie was never officially recognised in the way her colleagues, such as George Robey CBE, were. This had an impact on her bitterness in later life, which was only exacerbated when she was overlooked again for the 1919 Command Performance.

Max Tyler Music Hall collection, University of Kent

Off stage life

Despite her successes, Lloyd had a troubled personal life. She was married three times, and experienced domestic abuse during two of them. She married Percy Charles Courtenay in 1887, but the marriage was unhappy, and filled with violence, drunkeness and jealousy. The couple divorced in 1894, after Courtenay discovered that Lloyd had started an affair with fellow performer Alec Hurley. Hurley and Lloyd married in 1906, however the pair were effectively seperated by 1910 after they had consistent marital probems. Lloyd began an open and passionate affair with Bernard Dillon, a jockey. Hurley initiated divorce proceedings in 1911. Sadly the relationship between Lloyd and Dillon was not a happy one, marred by Dillon’s jealousy, drunkeness, and gambling addiction. Despite this they married in 1914. He was violent and abusive throught the rest of Lloyd’s life.

Sadly, Lloyd was also a heavy drinker, particularly in later life, perhaps a consequence of her troubled personal life. She would often have violent fights with Dillon, with Lloyd sometimes needing to apply make up to cover the bruises. As she moved in to her 50s she fell in to a depression, and would no longer hide her feelings of bitterness and anger. In July of 1920 she took Dillon to court over his violence, making their private life very much a topic of public record. This resulted in him being ordered by the court to “keep the peace” for the next twelve months, a sentence that was apparently requested by Lloyd.

In the later years of her life, Lloyd was in financial trouble (in part due to Dillon’s gambling debts) and needed to work in order to get by. Her drinking and ill health made her less and less reliable, sometimes only performing for a fraction of the time that she was scheduled. She began to forget her lines and would sometimes stumble on the stage, so much so that stagehands would be asked to be on call to help her if she became unsteady. In order to save money, in early 1922 she moved in with her sister Daisy, and by the time of her death Lloyd was virtually penniless.

Death

Lloyd worked right up until days before her death, having been on tour for much of 1922 despite being unwell. Her last performance at the Edmonton Empire was the Tuesday before her death. Prior to the performance, she complained to Sidney Bernstein (the owner of the theatre) of a stomach ache and was shivering. Bernstein tried to persuade her to go home, but to no avail. Her doctor was called and he gave her some medication, before staying to watch her performance from the side of the stage. During the performance Lloyd staggered and fell, making the audience laugh thinking it was part of her act. After the show Lloyd collapsed and was taken home in a taxi, unconscious. She did not regain consciousness and died at her residence in Golder’s Green, 7th October 1922 at the age of 52.

Funeral and legacy

Lloyd’s funeral was held at Hampstead Cemetery on 12 October, 1922. More than 50,000 people turned out on the streets of Hampstead to watch her funeral cortege. It was estimated that 120,000 people visited her grave in the following weeks, with queues stretching out from the gates of Hampstead Cemetary. Many newspapers and fellow performers paid tribute to Lloyd in the days after her death. T.S. Eliot wrote a moving tribute to her in The Criterion of January 1923. He said of Lloyd…

“Marie Lloyd was the greatest music hall artist in England: she was also the most popular… It is evidence of the extent to which she represented and expressed that part of the english nation which has perhaps the greatest vitality and interest… Whereas other comedians amuse their audiences as much and sometimes more than Marie Lloyd, no other comedian succeded so well in giving expression to the life of that audience, in raising it to kind of art.” 

Many of the songs sung by Lloyd are still known today, including “My Old Man Said Follow the Van”, “A Little of What You Fancy Does You Good”, and “Don’t Dilly Dally On The Way”. A memorial tablet to Lloyd was installed in the vestibule at Tivoli cinema (what was the Tivoli Theatre) in the Strand in 1944, on the 21st anniversary of her death. Lloyd was also commemorated in 1977 with a blue plaque at her previous residence, 55 Graham Road in Dalston. In media, a stage show and BBC drama have been created depicting the life of Marie Lloyd.

Max Tyler Music Hall collection, University of Kent

Sources

Note

As with many acts at the time, Lloyd performed some songs that contained offensive and racist terminology, and we can not with good conscience speak of her success and popularity without mention of this. Music Hall song and performance was in many ways a reflection of social attitudes at the time, and this does not exclude those parts of white, British history that are offensive and repellent. We can see this in our collection of music hall songsheets, with some containing racist slurs and offensive depictions, imperialistic attitude, and that make light of marital violence, misogyny, and the class divide. Music Hall rose in a time of expansion of the British Empire and popular imperialism. Songs performed by both male and female artists played with notions of power, or leaned on stereotypes to connect with the audience.

Missing Voices from the British Chinese Community

Research and Curation Group Blog Series Number 3:

The third in our blog series from members of the Research and Curation Group features the research and selection of items by Christopher De Coulon Berthoud.  Christopher was interested in looking at the content of Special Collections and Archives to see not just what could be found in the collection, but what was missing. 

 

I noted the exhibition’s mention of the Chinese chip shop owner, but the absence of any interviews or depictions of them, although the website for the original exhibition does address this issue. Reflecting on a wider absence of the British Chinese community’s voice in British culture, I chose a selection of British newspaper cartoons spanning a 60-year period.

In the 1930s Chinese restaurants were a rarity in Britain, and located mainly in London. The Good Food Guide 1955 listed only single examples of Chinese eating-places in Brighton, Liverpool and Manchester. A decade later as many as thirty-one per cent of British people who ate out had visited Chinese restaurants.

All of the cartoons selected caricatured Chinese people as restaurant owners or waiters, and it is interesting to note that while the stereotypes employed remain quite similar, the sense of racial animus becomes more marked over time as the size of the immigrant population increased. A Joseph Lee cartoon from 1936 published in the Evening News titled “Honourable diner eatee up chop-sticks” (Ref: JL0644) suggests the butt of the joke is the British diner unused to an unfamiliar cuisine. Later, an example from 1992 demonstrates no such finesse while employing a crude racist stereotype of dog-eating Chinese people. (Tom Johnston cartoon published in The Sun newspaper, 11th November 1992 Ref No 38714).

The cartoons illustrate what would become commonplace in the depiction of Chinese diaspora as a community, often problematically ‘other’ from British culture, using the restaurant as shorthand for a whole group.

The selection gives us an opportunity to note the role of the cartoonist as someone who both reflects, but also moulds and guides public opinion.

Christopher de Coulon Berthoud

 

Click on the links to see images of the cartoons in the British Cartoon Archive catalogue. 

 Nay, lad. No hard feelings about pud championship… [London, 1970][Stan McMurtry], Ref No: 17686]

A response to the ‘Great Yorkshire Pudding Contest,’ which took place in Leeds in 1970 and was won by Mr. Tin Sung Chan, a chef from a local Chinese restaurant, over a field of British contestants.

Although a generous reading of the cartoon suggests that the council member’s depiction as bad losers makes them the object of ridicule, it remains an illustration of the catch-22 situation facing immigrant communities. The stylized racial caricature presents the immigrant simultaneously as someone incapable of assimilation while also being penalised for doing so too successfully.

Colour washed image of the interior of a Chinese restaurant in which a male customer is sitting next to a female customer and flicking an object using his chopsticks so that it hits the head of the Chinese waiter who is walking away from him

Flicking bamboo shoots at the waiters is a damn childish way of retaliating for the Hong Kong riots. [London, 1967] Ronald Carl Giles, Ref No: CG/1/1/2/700

Flicking bamboo shoots at the waiters is a damn childish way of retaliating for the Hong Kong riots. [London, 1967] – [Ronald Carl Giles, Ref No: CG/1/1/2/700] 

and

As a protest against China’s record in Darfur I shall not be using the chopsticks [London, 2008] – [Matt (Pritchett; Matthew), Ref No: 90084] 

This pair of cartoons, created four decades apart but remarkably similar in content, illustrate a refusal to recognize migrant groups as really British. The identification of a diaspora population with the perceived political faults of China weaponizes the trope of divided loyalty, a recurring theme in xenophobic discourse.

 

Worse news, Prime Minister… they’ve just eaten Chris Patten! [London, 1992] – [Tom Johnston, Ref No 38714]

Perhaps the most crudely racist of all these cartoons comes from 1992 in the lead up to the transfer of Hong Kong’s sovereignty to China. This cartoon unashamedly draws on one of the oldest racist clichés weaponized against Chinese people in a cartoon commenting on an accusation by an Australian diplomat that the British Governor’s missing dog had been eaten.

Nautical Playbills and The Sea Around Us

Research and Curation Group Blog Series Number 2:

Elizabeth Grimshaw writes the second in our blog series from members of the Research and Curation Group. Elizabeth tells us about her selection of items for the Reflections on the Great British Fish & Chips exhibition, which included some playbills from our theatre collections, and a book by Rachel Carson. 

I had the pleasure of digitizing Dickens playbills while completing my Master of Arts in Victorian literature at the University of Kent, and was so pleased to work with the Research & Curation group to revisit some of these incredible archival resources.

This fantastic 19th century playbill should call to mind two very different songs: the classic anthem Rule Britannia, and the Beatles hit For the Benefit of Mr. Kite.

Historic document, a playbill, for a performance of The Waterman in 1829

Playbill – Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. For the Benefit of Mr Braham. “The Waterman”
Reference: POS/LDN DRU/0599532

In 1829, Britannia indisputably ruled the waves. Not only across an Empire through the might of the Royal Navy, but also here her cultural capital takes centre stage. The Waterman is an opera based on the annual race on the Thames that began in 1721, providing entertainment and sport for the ever growing London population. After this play was performed, vocalists in naval uniform, aboard a realistic Man of War, sang nautical tunes, blending fiction and reality at the height of England’s global powers. Invoking the mythical sea king Neptune for this feast aligns with the divine power of the Crown that would change drastically in the years to come. Britannia used to rule from shore to shore, with the sun never setting on the empire. Rule, Britannia! has been sung since 1740, but today should be modified to include and celebrate former colonies in its patriotic performances. The Beatles drew inspiration from a similarly busy playbill to write the lyrics for their hit 1967 song, taking these types of 19th-century entertainments into the 20th century.

Black and White plate from Rachel Carson's book The Sea Around Us

Plate illustration Part 3: Man and the Sea About Him, in Rachel Carson “The Sea Around Us”
Classmark: GC 21

I wanted to end with Rachel Carson’s landmark 1951 environmental text, The Sea Around Us. Her work emphasizes not one country’s mastery over the ocean, but places humanity within an ecosystem we all must support and share. Environmental degradation endangers all living creatures, from the depths of the sea, to the ever changing landscape of tidal pools, to the communities who are reliant on these shoals for survival. This classic work is a timely reminder of how precious the planet is that we all share. The sea supports us, connects us, and sustains us, but can only do so if we care for it. We can take Carson’s text as a guide to connecting with others and protecting the vulnerable, especially as the climate crisis escalates.

Elizabeth Grimshaw, University of Buckingham