Robert Crawford

Poems, Possum & Pram

The Poems of T S Eliot: Volume I, Collected and Uncollected Poems

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The Poems of T S Eliot: Volume II, Practical Cats and Further Verses

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One winter’s day in the late 1950s, the book designer Frank Herrmann and his wife, Patricia, left their baby daughter in her pram near the entrance to the offices of Faber & Faber in London’s Russell Square. The Herrmanns went upstairs for a business meeting. When Patricia came back downstairs, she was shocked to find both pram and baby were gone. Anxiously, she interrupted a busy secretary, demanding to know what had happened. ‘Oh,’ came the reply, ‘Camilla had kicked off all her blankets when Mr Eliot came by on his way out to lunch. So he tucked her up and is pushing the pram round the Square.’ After about three-quarters of an hour, T S Eliot (who was childless and then aged about seventy) pushed the pram back to the Faber building: mother and child were reunited. ‘We often wondered’, Frank wrote later, ‘whether the experience was a vicarious substitute for unfulfilled parenthood.’

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