Enter Valerie Fletcher. Throughout her time working as Eliot’s secretary, she kept her intense admiration of the man to herself and quietly built up, according to the Telegraph, “a collection of his (Eliot’s) works that rivaled his own.” It is not known how the subject of their mutual affection — despite an age difference of 37 years — was broached, but it is rumored that Eliot proposed to Fletcher one day by slipping a note in with some letters he needed typing up. The two were married on Jan. 10, 1957.
Valerie was sent to school at Queen Anne’s, Caversham, near Reading, where the ethos was sporting rather than intellectual. At the age of 14, however, she was visited by a sudden illumination when she heard a recording of John Gielgud reading Eliot’s Journey of the Magi. Thereafter her obsession with the poet became a family joke.
She spent most of her life after his death in 1965 editing and cataloguing the poet’s letters, but little has made its way into the public domain. She died last week at 86 and there are hopes that the remaining, vast collection of writings by the author of The Waste Land might now, at last, become available.
It'll be interesting to see who takes over the estate and what happens from here.