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Meeting TS Eliot


Going to Christ Church College, Oxford
Donald Hall Poet
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I applied to Cambridge, because I was still thinking of... I suppose, Leavis, and of Cambridge as being in the forties, a stronger literary place, but the other three guys who got Henrys were all scientists, and so they all went to Cambridge, and I said, 'OK, Oxford's fine'. And so I wound up at Oxford, and I wound up in Christ Church, because the dean of Christ Church was an ex-Henry fellow... he was Canadian, and he was having to do with the distribution of Henry fellows in... at Oxford, and so he picked Henrys for his college.  And, it was a good thing, because Balliol had about 80 Americans in it - very, very bright... famous names now, more or less - but they tended to gather together, they tended to eat together, and so on. Christ Church was 530 students, and there were only 12 Americans, and we knew each other, but knew necessarily we were put into an alien milieu.  And Christ Church was more alien than many of the other colleges would have been, because it was Eton, and Harrow, and Winchester, and so on. It was the remnants of the posh universe, and it was... there were a lot of fox hunters, people ran to the hounds and so on. It was really alien, and I loved it... just for how different it was. I had never been out of my country until that summer when I went over early after graduation, and was here in New Hampshire only one day that year... but I went over and traveled in France, and Italy, and Scotland, went up to the Edinburgh Festival, went to the Festival of Britain and I saw my first, big, large scale Henry Moores out of doors there, and was very impressed.  Went to the theatre a good bit. This was a time in London when you could stand in line, and... and have a seat way high up in the theatre for 35 cents, two and six, be a few rows down for 50 cents, three and six, it was amazing.  And I saw Donald Wolfit do Tamburlaine at The Old Vic. I saw Peter Ustinov do The Loves of Four Colonels. I saw The Lyric Review, which was very funny. I can remember plays that I saw in that first few weeks just before I went up to Oxford.

The 14th US Poet Laureate Donald Hall (1928-2018) was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, then earned a bachelor's degree from Harvard in 1951 and a BLitt, from Oxford in 1953. He published many essays and anthologies of both poetry and prose including String too Short to be Saved: Recollections of Summers on a New England Farm, White Apples and the Taste of Stone, Without: Poems, and Ox-Cart Man, a children's book which won the Caldecott Medal. Hall was editor of the magazine Oxford Poetry, literary editor of Isis, editor of New Poems, and poetry editor of The Paris Review. He won many awards, including two Guggenheim Fellowships and a Robert Frost Medal. At the end of his first Oxford year, he also won the university's Newdigate Prize, awarded for his poem Exile.

Listeners: Kendel Currier

Kendel Currier started working for Donald Hall in August of 1994 as his correspondence typist. Later she took on his manuscript typing as well, and in October of 1998 moved 100 meters down the road from Donald and became his personal assistant, adding many various new tasks to her work. As well as working for Donald for the last 10 and-a-half years, Donald Hall and Kendel Currier share a set of great (or for Kendel great-great) grandparents, making them distant cousins and part of a similar New Hampshire heritage.

Tags: Christ Church, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Henry Fellowship, Balliol College, Eton College, Harrow School, Winchester College, New Hampshire, France, Italy, Scotland, Edinburgh Festival, Festival of Britain, Tamburlaine, The Old Vic, The Loves of Four Colonels, The Lyric Review, FR Leavis, Henry Moore, Donald Wolfit, Peter Ustinov

Duration: 2 minutes, 47 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008