PHILADELPHIA, PA         A century after its appearance, T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. WelschAlfred Prufrock continues to inspire new presentations of the work across many different artistic genres. In the spirit of joining that inspired chorus, the Penn Libraries are happy to announce their June 2015 exhibition “Let Us Go Then, You and I: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Publication of T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.’” The free, public exhibition features selections from the Carol and Erwin Welsch T.S. Eliot Collection and is located on the sixth floor of Van-Pelt Dietrich Library Center, next to the Class of 1978 Pavilion.

Carol and Erwin (FA’58) Welsch shared a life-long passion for Eliot’s verse, meticulously assembling the entire body of published work of one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. According to Director of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, David McKnight, Erwin’s interest in Eliot began in a Modern poetry course he took at Penn. Erwin was enthralled by Eliot’s “rhythmic, jarring-yet-masterful poetry.” The Welsches spent fifty years amassing this collection, a challenging and expensive pursuit that produced a precious gift for the Penn Libraries.

Notable items in the Welsch Collection include:

  • Lytton Strachey’s copy of Prufrock and other Observations
  • Eliot’s fourth book Ara Vos Pres (An edition that once belonged to Eliot’s brother, Henry Ware Eliot and bears the signature of the American poet, Yvor Winters)
  • Publisher and editor of Poetry and Drama Harold Munro’s annotated copy of Eliot’s Poems 1909-1925

Beyond the important achievement of collecting Eliot firsts, Carol and Erwin expanded the scope of their Eliot collection to include enough ephemera and secondary sources to delight both the serious scholar and casual observer.

Members of the Penn community can access the Welsch collection at the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts.