John Smart’s Tarantula’s Web, on the circle of intellectuals around John Hayward and TS Eliot is, according to Lachlan Mackinnon, an unrivaled “demonstration” of “just how ‘unpleasant’ it might have been ‘to meet Mr Eliot.”
Hayward and Eliot were “extremely” intimate Mackinnon writes, but they fell out over Eliot’s marriage to a lowbrow typist, Valerie Fletcher. According to Mackinnon, “Eliot behaved badly. He did not take Hayward into his confidence about his feelings or his intentions, and relations were never truly restored. Mary Trevelyan, a close companion of Eliot’s who had shared evenings at the theatre, intimate dinners and country-house weekends with him throughout this period, was first fobbed off with a fake address, then refused any contact, and although Hayward fared a little better, one cannot help feeling that the more celebrated, more gifted man abused his position.”
Unpleasant Eliot may have been, but I have to defend Old Possum, which I have long seen as evidence that Eliot could deploy his gifts for rhythm on something more than grumbling.