August 2017 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Found in the Attic: T.S. Eliot's Family Photo Album

A trove of T.S. Eliot presentation copies, photographs, and ephemera goes to auction next month at Heritage Auctions, some sourced directly from the attic of the author's family. James Gannon, director of rare books at Heritage Auctions, uncovered the items during a recent thrilling visit.    

Eliot Album copy.jpg"I had one of those incredible experiences of going through the attic with Eliot's great-niece Priscilla Talcott Spahn (née Priscilla Stearns Talcott), who is the last living relative to have known and had a personal relationship with T.S. Eliot," said Gannon. "We looked through a lot of boxes of art and photographs in the attic, and books, and found one of the photo albums that is offered in this auction, among other things."

The photo album contains 169 candid shots of young T.S. and his family at home in Missouri and on vacation in various locations. Almost all are mounted in the album and captioned. According to the auction catalogue, "It is unlikely that these photos have appeared in print anywhere." The bidding starts at $500.

On that same visit, Eliot's relatives showed Gannon another treasure: a small square of linen featuring the embroidered image of a playful kitty cat made by none other than T.S. himself--when he was six. The unique item was also consigned to auction and is estimated to reach $1,000+.  

Bidding opens online this Friday and concludes in a live auction in Dallas (and online) on September 14.

Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions