Welcome To The Bitchery

Contemporary opera: TS Eliot was a total jerk to his first wife

I went to an opera last night about Vivienne Haigh-Wood, TS Eliot's first wife, and found out a lot of interesting, tragic things about a woman I barely knew existed before.

They met in 1915, while Eliot was studying at Oxford, and were married after three months. She was sucked into the social life of the Bloomsbury group, but her status there depended entirely on her association with him, and when he decided he didn't want to be with her any more, they abandoned her. He hid from her, and instructed everyone he knew to refuse to tell her where he was.


She had severe menstrual problems and hormone imbalances, was emotionally volatile, and began to behave erratically. Unable to accept the break up she was driven to increasingly erratic behaviour to try and win back his attentions, and lost all perspective, as the conspiracy against her persisted. Virginia Woolf referred to her as 'a bag of ferrets around TS Eliot's neck.

Her family had her committed to an asylum, where she lived the rest of her life still hoping that he would visit her, until the day she died.

Share This Story