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Valerie Eliot
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Celebrity's Relative
    (August 17, 1926-November 9, 2012)
    Born in Leeds, England, United Kingdom
    Birth name was Esme Valerie Fletcher
    Second wife of poet T.S. Eliot (1957-65)
    Executor of Eliot's literary estate
    Edited three volumes of Eliot's letters (1989-2012)
    She became obsessed with Eliot at age 14 when she heard John Gielgud reading one of his poems.
    She attended secretarial school in hopes of one day working for Eliot.
    When a position as Eliot's secretary became available, she paced outside the offices of Faber & Faber, his publisher, for two hours to work up the courage to meet him for an interview.
    She was nearly 40 years younger than Eliot.
    She frustrated several would-be Eliot biographers by refusing them permission to quote from his poems and letters.
    She did, however, let Andrew Lloyd Webber adapt several of Eliot's poems into the musical 'Cats.'
    Despite her infatuation, she was strictly professional in the office, with Eliot later admitting that for several years he was uncertain if she even liked him.
    After their wedding, Eliot declared, 'I'm the luckiest man in the world. I don't deserve such happiness.'
    A friend of Eliot's wrote, 'His second marriage was as happy as his first had been miserable... He acted like a man who had been starved all his life of physical affection and could not get enough of it.'
    She noted that Eliot in his will had requested that no biography of him be written and said she was merely following his wishes.
    She used the proceeds from 'Cats' to establish Old Possum's Practical Trust, a literary charity.

Credit: C. Fishel


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