When the New York Public Library announced in October 1968 that its Berg Collection had acquired the original manuscript of The Waste Land, one of the most puzzling mysteries of twentieth-century literature was solved. The manuscript was not lost, as had been believed, but had remained among the papers of John Quinn, Eliot's friend and adviser, to whom the poet had sent it in 1922.
If the discovery of the manuscript was startling, its content was even more so, because the published version of The Waste Land was considerably shorter than the original. How it was reduced and edited is clearly revealed on the manuscript thought the handwritten notes of Ezra Pound, of Eliot's first wife, Vivien, and of Eliot himself.
In order that this material might be widely available for study, the poet's widow Mrs Valerie Eliot prepared the present edition, in 1971, in which each page of the original manuscript was reproduced in facsimile, with a clear transcript facing pages. Mrs Eliot also included an illuminating introduction, explanatory notes and cross-references, together with the text of the first published version of The Waste Land, thus completing the evolution of the most influential poem in modern literature.
The present edition is a reissue, with corrections, of the 1980 reprint.
Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St Louis, Missouri, in 1888. He came to England in 1914 and published his first book of poems in 1917. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. Eliot died in 1965.