Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888 - 1965)
Poet, playwright, literary critic and editor, T. S. Eliot is one of the leading
voices of the modernist movement.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, on Sept. 26, 1888, Eliot studied at Harvard, the
Sorbonne and at Oxford University.
In 1915, he settled in London, where he was employed as teacher, bank clerk and
assistant editor. During the same year, he published his first distinguished
piece, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, which was followed by
Gerontion (1919) - a meditative interior monologue in blank verse - and by.
The Waste Land (1922).
Extremely disillusioned by the years following Word War I, Eliot, in The
Waste Land, portrays moments of horror and pessimism and combines them to
the desire of man for redemption. The sublime and original use of the language,
the complex style and poignant topic have made The Waste Land one of the
landmarks of modern poetry. In 1922, Eliot also founded the literary journal
"Criterion", which he then edited for seventeen years. In 1927, he was confirmed
in the Church of England and became a naturalised British citizen. A more
traditional and deeply religious poem, Ash Wednesday, was published in
1930, whereas his Selected Essays appeared in 1932.
Before the publication of The Four Quartets (1943), Eliot wrote his first
plays: The Rock (1934), Murder in the Cathedral (1935) - a play
dealing with the assassination of Archbishop Thomas a Becket - and The Family
Reunion (1939). After World War II, other plays appeared, such as The
Cocktail Party, based upon the ancient Greek drama Alcestis by
Euripides (1950), The Confidential Clerk (1954) and The Elder
In The Four Quartets (Burnt Norton, 1936; East Coker, 1940;
The Dry Salvages, 1941; Little Gidding, 1942), Eliot dealt with
the idea of past and human history. Although each poem was published
individually, when they appeared together they made a great impact on the public
and led Eliot to international fame and recognition. In 1948, the author was
awarded the Order of Merit and the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Eliot was married twice. In 1947, his first wife died after a long illness; he
married again in 1957. He died on Jan. 4, 1965, in London.