T. S. Eliot signed book in Cotswolds sale

A rare inscribed and signed copy of T.S Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats will go under the hammer in the Cotswolds this month.

T.S Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

The book, ( New Edition , 11th impression 1953) was an engagement gift to Susan MacEwan, Eliot’s secretary at Faber and Faber, and the inscription reads ‘…For Susan McEwan ( sic) with warm good wishes to herself and her future husband – T S Eliot 16.X.58’.  

T.S. Eliot inscribed and signed copy of Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

The book is accompanied by some interesting paperwork – including a handwritten letter to MacEwan from New York dated 28.IV.58 asking her to check Eliot’s income tax position with the accountants. The envelope is present, with a postscript on the back. There is also a typed letter relating to the writing process of his last play The Elder Statesman and a signed playbill for the first performance at the Cambridge Theatre on 25th September 1958. Other ephemera relating to Eliot accompanies the lot, adding to its huge interest for collectors. 

Eliot was American born, but lived the greater part of his life in England, and took British citizenship in 1927. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1948. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats was an immensely popular children’s poetry collection and the inspiration for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical Cats. 

Jenny Low, Cotswold Auction Company books cataloguer, said “We couldn’t ask for better provenance – all this material comes directly from Susan MacEwan, who has consigned it for auction via her daughter”. She anticipates a strong following for this lot and has given it an estimate of £3,000-£5,000 in the sale on February 7.