The Waste Land

Publishing history

Before the editing had even begun Eliot found a publisher.[E] Horace Liveright of the New York publishing firm of Boni and Liveright was in Paris for a number of meetings with Ezra Pound. At a dinner on 3 January 1922 (see 1922 in poetry), he made offers for works by Pound, James Joyce (Ulysses) and Eliot. Eliot was to get a royalty of 15% for a book version of the poem planned for autumn publication.[12]

To maximise his income and reach a broader audience, Eliot also sought a deal with magazines. Being the London correspondent for The Dial magazine[13] and a college friend of its co-owner and co-editor, Scofield Thayer, the Dial was an ideal choice. Even though the Dial offered $150 (£34)[14] for the poem (25% more than its standard rate) Eliot was offended that a year's work would be valued so low, especially since another contributor was found to have been given exceptional compensation for a short story.[15] The deal with the Dial almost fell through (other magazines considered were the Little Review and Vanity Fair), but with Pound's efforts eventually a deal was worked out where, in addition to the $150, Eliot would be awarded the Dial magazine's second annual prize for outstanding service to letters. The prize carried an award of $2,000 (£450).[16]

In New York in the late summer (with John Quinn, a lawyer and literary patron, representing Eliot's interests) Boni and Liveright made an agreement with The Dial allowing the magazine to be the first to publish the poem in the US if they agreed to purchase 350 copies of the book at discount from Boni and Liveright.[17] Boni and Liveright would use the publicity of the award of the Dial's prize to Eliot to increase their initial sales.

The poem was first published in the UK, without the author's notes, in the first issue (October 1922) of The Criterion, a literary magazine started and edited by Eliot. The first appearance of the poem in the US was in the November 1922 issue of The Dial magazine (actually published in late October). In December 1922, the poem was published in the US in book form by Boni and Liveright, the first publication to print the notes. In September 1923, the Hogarth Press, a private press run by Eliot's friends Leonard and Virginia Woolf, published the first UK book edition of The Waste Land in an edition of about 450 copies, the type handset by Virginia Woolf.

The publication history of The Waste Land (as well as other pieces of Eliot's poetry and prose) has been documented by Donald Gallup.[1]

Eliot, whose 1922 annual salary at Lloyds Bank was £500 ($2,215)[18] made approximately £630 ($2,800) with the Dial, Boni and Liveright and Hogarth Press publications.[19][F]


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