ELIOT, Thomas Stearns

Born: September 26, 1888, in Saint Louis, Missouri, United States

Died: January 4, 1965, in London, England

T.S. Eliot was an American poet, critic, and dramatist. He was influenced by nineteenth century French symbolists, seventeenth century dramatists, and the medieval Italian poets. He won the Nobel prize for literature in 1948 among many other awards. Respected during his time by writers such as Virginia Woolf, he influenced the development of English drama over future generations.

He was the son of a businessman and poet. He was educated at Harvard, the Sorbonne, and the University of Oxford, completing an master of arts degree. After graduation, he traveled Europe in 1914 where he met Ezra Pound who encouraged him to remain in London. He married Vivien Haigh-Wood, but their marriage ended in separation.

Eliot became a resident of London in 1915 the same year that his poem Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was published. To support himself, he worked as a bank clerk, teacher, and editor. His most important poem, The Waste Land, was published in 1922. Criticized at the time for its unconventional form, it became a symbol for a lost generation.

He returned to the United States in 1832 to take a position at Harvard. Seven years later, he published a collection of children's verse, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. This work was adapted in 1981 for the stage under the name Cats.