How did teaching shape T.S. Eliot’s writing?

Wednesday 3 May 2017

Award-winning actor Jeremy Irons will be present at the University of London for its inaugural 1858 Charter Lecture, celebrating the teaching work of T.S. Eliot. He will be giving a poetry reading of Eliot’s Four Quartets, following a keynote lecture by internationally acclaimed academic, Professor Ronald Schuchard.

Professor Schuchard’s lecture, entitled ‘Eliot in the Classroom – 1916 to 1919’, will focus on the poet's early writing, much of which was shaped during his time as an extension tutor for the University of London.

Eliot delivered regular classes to the working people of Southall in West London, where he was known for his conscientious marking of his students’ essays and providing feedback. In his reports to the university, Eliot recognised the talents of his students and their contribution to class discussions at the end of their long working days. In light of this, Eliot adapted his lectures to sustain his students’ interest by making them more relevant to their tastes, including Shakespeare and Elizabethan drama.

In the keynote lecture, Professor Schuchard will explore the influence T.S. Eliot’s teaching had on his development as a writer, and its impact on his later works. T.S. Eliot went on to become one of the most revered and accomplished writers of the 20th century, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948.

Internationally acclaimed actor Jeremy Irons will follow the lecture with a reading of Eliot’s Four Quartets to an audience of world renowned academics, guests, students and staff from the University of London. 

The inaugural lecture at Senate House marks the awarding of the 1858 Charter by Queen Victoria. The Charter opened up the university's degrees to the world through distance and flexible learning, making it a world leader in delivering quality higher education across the world. 

Dr Mary Stiasny, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), University of London, and Chief Executive of the University of London Academy, said: ‘We are delighted to be celebrating the Centenary of T.S. Eliot’s first academic year as an extension tutor with the University of London. In providing world-class education to working people in Southall, T.S. Eliot was contributing towards the University of London’s access agenda, which is to make higher education accessible for all that can benefit from it.’

She added: ‘We are delighted that Jeremy Irons will be reading from T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, making the evening exceptionally special. His reading will follow a keynote lecture by Professor Ronald Schuchard, a Fellow of the Institute of English Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, whose award-winning work and insight into T.S. Eliot life and writing is of a world-class standing.’

The event will be held on 16 May at Senate House, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU.

Anyone wishing to attend may book tickets through the following link: Two tickets are permitted per person. All ticket proceeds are being donated to charity.

Contact or call 020 7862 8545 for further information.


Notes to Editors

Contacts:  Binda Rai, Head of Corporate Affairs, University of London International Programmes; or 07920 476483

About the University of London

  • The University of London was established in 1836 by Royal Charter. It is made up 18 Member Institutions, including King’s College London and nine research institutes. 
  • The University of London is the world’s oldest provider of academic awards through distance and flexible learning, dating back to 1858, when the University of London was awarded a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria.
  • In 1858 Charles Dickens described the University of London as ‘The People’s University’ when its 1858 Royal Charter extended access to degrees to those who could not come to London to study.
  • Today, students of the University of London International Programmes study from a suite of 100+ academic programmes, with the Global MBA being the latest in this offering. Students can choose between taking their award through self-study or through support from local teaching institutions.
  • The University of London, through its International Programmes (formerly known as the External System) is the world’s largest classroom, with 50,000 students in 180 countries, and over 1.2million learners studying its short courses on the Coursera online platform.
  • Further information about the University of London is available at