First Publication: The Criterion
This centennial marks The Waste Land’s initial publication in The Criterion, an English journal created and edited by T.S. Eliot himself. After this important moment, however, The Waste Land’s publication history did not end. What follows is a record of other early landmarks in the poem’s publication history, all of which are available at the Beinecke.
The Waste Land: Typescript
While this first item might not be a real publication, it is the precursor to a publication. Despite the drama detailed in Section I, The Waste Land ended up being published in The Dial. This typescript, corrected in Watson’s handwriting, can be found in the Dial/Scofield Thayer Papers, and shows the process that facilitated the poem’s printing in The Dial.
First American Publication: The Dial
The Waste Land’s publication in The Dial marked its first appearance in print in America. At the Beinecke, you can read the November 1922 issue of The Dial that introduced American readers to Eliot’s poem. Notably, this issue did not contain Eliot’s notes about the poem, which were not published until the poem appeared in book form. The Dial advertises this forthcoming event: at the bottom of the poem’s first page, “The Editors” write, “An edition of The Waste Land with annotations by Mr Eliot will presently be issued by Boni & Liveright.”
The Beinecke offers ten first editions of The Waste Land from which to choose. Each copy is unique, both physically and historically, providing a different glimpse into The Waste Land’s story. Some belonged to notable figures, including poets William Carlos Williams and William Rose Benét, as well as actress Fania Marinoff.
Another copy shows where The Waste Land’s history overlaps with the history of research at the Beinecke. The Beinecke holds the papers of Donald Gallup, former curator of the Yale Collection of American Literature and notable Eliot bibliographer. The Gallup Eliot Collection includes a first edition with two pages of notes from Gallup folded into the pages of Eliot’s poem.
In his notes, Gallup traces typographical variations across different copies of the first edition. At the end of this copy, there is also a label from Gotham Book Mart, the landmark Manhattan bookseller, further situating the book within its historical context. More items in the Gallup Eliot collection can be explored through Gallup’s complete bibliography of the different editions of The Waste Land (Gallup Eliot 1031).
The first edition of The Waste Land also made Eliot’s annotations available in printed form; in each copy, they can be found at the poem’s conclusion:
The first English edition of the Waste Land was published in 1923 by Leonard and Virginia Woold at the Hogarth Press. In the copy of this edition available through the Gallup Eliot Collection, you can read Eliot’s handwritten inscription to the English author Edgar Jepson. Additional correspondence between Eliot and Jepson can be found in the Donald Clifford Gallup Papers (YCAL MSS 838).
This research was compiled by Isabel Prioleau, a student research assistant in the Beinecke’s Yale Collection of American Literature, and a member of Yale College ‘25.