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T.S. Eliot's Biography

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Thomas Stearns Eliot, better known as T. S. Eliot, was born in St Louis, Missouri on 26 September 1888.

T.S. Eliot studied at Harvard and the Sorbonne before winning a travelling scholarship from Harvard to Merton College, Oxford.

Eliot decided to settle in England and in 1915 married Vivien Haigh-Wood. After spending 8 years in Lloyds Bank, he became an editorial director of publishers Faber and Faber.

In 1917 T.S. Eliot published his first volume of verse, which included 'The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock' - which had been written when Eliot was at Harvard.

Martin Seymour-Smith in his Guide to Modern World Literature has this to say:

"'Prufrock' like the best of its successors is a minor poem. Eliot is a minor poet: he cannot write about love; he lacks real sympathy, or empathy; he is frigid ..."

Seymour-Smith is even more critical of The Waste Land (1922), and in general, regards, Eliot as a skilled technician but not a poet.

In 1921 both T.S. Eliot and his wife were affected by nervous disorders and went to Lausanne for a few months. Around this time he completed The Waste Land (1922) which was published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf.

In 1927 Eliot became a British citizen and converted to the Anglican Church.

In 1933 Eliot divorced Vivien who was sent to a psychiatric hospital.

Other notable works by Eliot include The Hollow Men (1925), Murder in the Cathedral (1935), Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939) and Four Quartets (1944).

Eliot was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948. And in 1957 married his former secretary Valerie Fletcher.

A new edition of 'T.S. Eliot, Anti-semitism and Literary Form' by Anthony Julius. Julius's article about T.S. Eliot and anti-semitism also discusses how one reads literature generally.

T.S. Eliot died on 4 January 1965.

In January 2020, the BBC reported on how a newly published letter shed light on Eliot's feelings towards Emily Hale.

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