London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1932. First edition. Small octavo (7 5/8 inches tall), original brown cloth, printed paper spine label, brown top edge, uncut, original buff dust wrapper. A near-fine copy. Item #1364
"IT WILL BE FOUND, I DARE TO PROPHESY, THAT T.S. ELIOT WILL BE RECOGNISED GENERALLY AS ONE OF THE VERY GREAT WRITERS OF THE POST-WAR WORLD"
First edition of Hugh Ross Williamson's first book—a portrait of T.S. Eliot in the years just after his entrance into the Church of England. Complete as published in the scarce original printed dust wrapper.
Hugh Ross Williamson began his career as a journalist and critic, long before his ordination in the Church of England during the Second World War. Eliot cooperated with Williamson, as a brief prefatory note placed next to the contents thanks Eliot for his "kindness in supplying certain facts" and the "stimulus of his conversation." Consists of eight chapters: I. Apology, II. The Man Behind the Poetry, III. Exeunt the Romantics, IV. T.S. Eliot's Theory of Poetry, V. The Early Poems (1917 and 1920), VI. "The Waste Land," VII. "The Word within a Word," VIII. and Now.
The initial chapter ("Apology") calls for an objective assessment of Eliot but by the latter chapters, Ross Williamson has clearly been won over: "it is almost impossible for an irreligious age to understand a man so intensely religious as Eliot. I mean belief in a dogma , which is so wide that it embraces the whole of life and so narrow that it embraces the whole of life and so narrow that it excludes as heretics the majority of modern thinkers; a creed like a challenge, dividing those who believe the doctrine of the Incarnation from those wqho do not. Incarnation is the vital issue."
Ross Williamson continued to write after he became a clergyman. He developed a reputation as an Anglo-Catholic preacher and theologian and soon began to drift towards Rome. In the wake of the crisis in the Church of England surrounding the recognition of South Indian Orders, "Hugh Ross Williamson and his wife were received into the Church on 15 October 1955 by Father Basil Fitz-Gibbon, SJ, at Farm Street" (Pearce). With a brief Index to Poems on the final leaf. Pearce. Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief. See Martin 325 (for the UK edition).