When I lived in England, I used The Waste Land as a sort of Baedeker as I meandered about London; I grew to know the city intimately—especially those churches built in the aftermath of the Great Fire (1666). One of the pieces I’ve included here, “‘Where the Tower Met the Night’: T S Eliot’s Wasted Churches,” developed, in part, from those city wanderings. The paper focuses on the significance of the City churches Eliot wrote of when the buildings were under threat of demolition prior to commercial development. To accompany the essay, I’d compiled, poorly, a series of illustrations of those City churches, then and now.*
I’d arranged to share the paper at a conference seminar. I emailed it to all seminar members well in advance of the due date. I didn’t hear a peep back (not that I expected to). On the day of the seminar, its leader introduced herself to me and handed me a manila envelope. She asked me to not look in the envelope until after the seminar. She asked that I not look because the envelope contained galley proofs of her forthcoming book about literature and heritage. It turned out that some of her research paralleled my own. We had (inadvertently) worked on the same research topic. I was embarrassed, she was gracious (and she later included a note on my seminar presentation in her text). I still think on, and appreciate, her kindness and collegiality.
* I’ve just found that file, so I am reuniting it, here, with the Eliot essay.
FYI: Here are two terrific sites for more info on the City of London churches:
Love’s Guide to the Church Bells of the City of London
The Friends of the City Churches