Thomas Stearns Eliot
The Poetic Genius of the Twentieth Century
T.S.'s Personal Life
T.S. was born in St. Louis, Missouri on September 26, 1888. He originally attended Harvard, but he later performed graduate work in philosophy at various locations including at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, Oxford, and Merton College. After he moved to England, he was employed as a school teacher, a bank clerk, and eventually became the director of Faber & Faber, a publishing house. In 1915, Eliot married Vivienne Haigh-Wood. However, in 1933 he and Vivienne separated and T.S. was remarried to Valerie Fletcher in 1956. He founded and edited the Criterion, a literary journal, from 1922 until its final issue in 1939. 5 T.S. eventually became a British citizen in 1927 and entered the Anglican Church.
T.S. believed that poetry should focus on the representation of complexities of modern life and behavior in language, and therefore lead to "difficult poetry". He published his first book of poems, Prufrock and Other Observations, in 1917. Many viewed The Waste Land, published in 1922, to be the most influential poetic work of the twentieth century. Some of his later poems include Ash Wednesday, Four Quartets, and Burnt Norton. T.S. was also a major playwright and was responsible for Murder in the Cathedral, The Family Reunion, and The Cocktail Party. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948. Eliot later died in London on January 4, 1965.