i) The Cocktail Party. Faber and Faber, 1950, 8vo, FIRST EDITION, second state (with "her" spelt correctly on p.29), PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED PRE-PUBLICATION TO DONALD HOUSTON ("To | Donald Houston | with the author's | gratitude | T.S. Eliot | 2.iii.50") on front free endpaper, half-title, original green cloth lettered in gold on spine, dust-jacket [Gallup A55], head and foot of spine a little soiled, dust-jacket in two pieces and lacking spine, worn at all edges
ii) A programme for the first performance in London at the New Theatre, 3 May 1950, where Houston reprised his role as Peter Quilpe, original printed wrappers, small area of wear to upper wrapper, area of loss in lower wrapper (resulting from breaking the original seal)
Welsh actor Donald Houston (1923-1991) played Peter Quilpe in The Cocktail Party when it premiered at the Edinburgh festival in August 1949. The play was produced by Henry Sherek and directed by Eliot's longtime collaborator E. Martin Browne. The cast also famously included Alec Guinness in the role of the "Unidentified Guest", who later that year was again cast alongside Houston again in A Run for Your Money.
The Cocktail Party was one of the great successes of the festival. In its review of the opening night performance the Manchester Guardian observed, "Mr Eliot has coated a bitter pill with much success... Eliot's difficult, extremely precise, and stoical thought has never been expressed with more clarity, and the result is remarkable" (23 August 1949). Peter Russell wrote how "considering the fact that the actors neither knew their parts well nor even professed to 'understand' them, only strengthens one's conviction that 'The Cocktail Party' will take its place with others of Mr Eliot's works, among the great achievements of our time" ('A Note on T.S. Eliot's New Play', in Nine, Autumn 1949, pp.28-29), whilst another contemporary reviewer described the cast as a "superb ensemble of English acting". The Cocktail Party went on to have successful runs in London (where Houston reprised his part) and on Broadway during 1950.
This acting script of course predates the first published edition, which appeared on 9 March 1950. The misprint "here" for "her" on the first line of p.29 was a mistake overlooked in the page proofs but corrected in the press, and, according to Gallup, "copies with and without the error were bound up and issued simultaneously. The first copy delivered to the publishers did not contain the error". Similarly this copy of the first edition, inscribed pre-publication by Eliot, has the mistake corrected.
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