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Literary figures fight to preserve T. S. Eliot's heritage

16th August 2011

A number of leading literary lights are fighting to preserve an area of Somerset that provided the inspiration for one of T. S. Eliot's greatest works and also serves as the poet's final resting place.

The 900-home village of East Coker is currently under threat from developers who want to build 3,700 houses and quadruple the size of the village, though many feel such a development would harm the character of the area.

These include former poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, who noted that East Coker was one of the Four Quartets that won Eliot the Nobel Prize for Literature, while his ashes are also interred in the parish church.

Motion, along with author Jeanette Winterson and several local literary figures, is calling for a rethink on the part of the developers, who intend for the new village to be an 'eco-town' with carbon-neutral homes.

Academics from the universities of Oxford, Chicago, Harvard and Stanford have also written to councillors asking them not to endanger Eliot's favourite spot, as it could lead to a substantial reduction in tourist numbers.

Actor Trevor Peacock, who lives in East Coker, added: 'It's stupid to build where they are saying. There is a good case that Americans will stop coming here if T. S. Eliot's place becomes a town.'

© W&G Foyle Ltd
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