Seaside shelter where TS Eliot wrote The Waste Land is listed
A seaside shelter in Margate, Kent where the nation's favourite poet TS Eliot is believed to have written some of his most famous lines of poetry, has been listed at grade II by the Secretary of State for Culture, on the advice of English Heritage.
The Nayland Rock promenade shelter overlooking Margate Sands has been identified as the place where TS Eliot composed part of one of his best known poems, The Waste Land. TS Eliot has established a reputation as the leading British literary figure in the immediate post-war years and received the Nobel prize for Literature in 1948.
TS Eliot was in Margate for three weeks in autumn 1921, staying at the Albemarle Hotel in Cliftonville as part of a rest cure following a mental breakdown. In a letter to the novelist Sydney Schiff dated 4 November 1921, Eliot writes: "I have done a rough draft of part III [of The Waste Land], but do not know whether it will do, and must wait for Vivien's opinion as to whether it is printable. I have done this while sitting in a shelter on the front - as I am out all day except when taking rest. I have written only some fifty lines, and have read nothing, literally - I sketch the people, after a fashion, and practice scales on the mandoline."
Margate is mentioned in Part III of The Waste Land entitled The Fire Sermon: On Margate Sands. The poem includes the lines: "I can connect / Nothing with nothing. / The broken fingernails of dirty hands. / My people humble people who expect / Nothing."
Commenting on the listing, English Heritage Director for Heritage Protection, Peter Beacham said: "I am delighted the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has taken our advice to list at grade II the Nayland Rock shelter which looks out over the sands of Margate, a special seaside town. It is a handsome late Victorian/Edwardian seaside shelter and has a very important historical association with TS Eliot, the nation's much-loved poet. English Heritage is happy to join in with the poetry of life!"
Literary figures such as playwright Alan Bennett, former poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, and the late poet's wife Valerie Eliot, have all written letters in support of giving listed status to the shelter.
Although T. S. Eliot once dismissed it as "just a piece of rhythmical grumbling", The Waste Land was a focus for the widespread desolation after the Great War, and became the most controversial poem of the 20th century. Its collage of scenes and sounds includes episodes from history, mythology, contemporary London pubs and Eliot's own disastrous first marriage. As if this and its welter of quotations in languages ancient and modern were not enough of a challenge to the reader, the manuscript was subjected to ruthless editing and fragmentation by Ezra Pound. The poem was published in October 1922, shortly after James Joyce's Ulysses, marking the high point of literary modernism. The Waste Land also secured Eliot's reputation as the leading poet of his time, paving the way to the Nobel Prize (1948).