T.S. Eliot

Thomas Stearns Eliot

        T.S. Eliot was born to Henry Ware Eliot and Charlotte Stearns Eliot on September 26, 1888.  He was born in St. Louis, Missouri.  Eliot was the youngest of seven children.  He had five older sisters and one older brother.  In 1898, when he reached  the age of ten, he started attending school at Smith Academy (Bush, Ronald).

        Later, in 1905, Eliot attended Milton Academy in Massachusetts.  He then went on to attend Harvard(Gordon, Lyndall).  He earned his Bachelors degree in three years instead of the usual four years.  Then, after earning his masters degree, Eliot moved to France.  After that he spent a year in Sorbonne, France during 1911 (Pope, Scott).  Then he returned to Harvard to study philosophy.  He was awarded a scholarship to Merton College in Oxford, and decided to go there.  So he left for England in 1914. He met Vivien Haigh-Wood at Oxford, who he later married on June 26th, 1915.  After leaving Merton College, he worked as a schoolteacher (Poets.org). To earn extra money he wrote books and short poems. Then in 1917, he worked for Lloyds Bank, where he kept track of foreign accounts.  Around the year 1925, Eliot quit his job at Lloyds and joins Faber and Gywer. Faber and Gywer was a publishing firm located in London (Pope, Scott).

        In 1938, after years of strained marriage and separation, Vivien was admitted to a mental hospital in North London (Nobelprize.org). Because of his Anglican beliefs Eliot could not divorce or remarry while Vivien still alive. No divorce was ever announced , just a really long separation.  Then she died ten years after being admitted to the mental hospital. So in 1948, Eliot got remarried to Valerie Fletcher (Gordon, Lyndall). 

       He still had his job at Faber and Gywer and he stayed there for the rest of his life.  Over the years he publishes many poems. Some short, others long. Some famous, some not even published. He wrote plays that were performed all over. He wrote books as well, filled with his famous poems. Then, in 1963, he published a masterpiece.  He published "Collected Poems 1909-1962" (Goecities).  That book had all of his poems from the beginning of his career to the end of it. On January 4th, 1965, Thomas Stearns Eliot died (Poets.org).

Questions and answers

1) When and where did T.S. Eliot live?

        A.  See first paragraph

2) Why was T.S. Eliot considered important?

        A. His poetry was excellent and there was more meaning in most of his poems “hidden” behind his words.  T.S. Eliot won both the Nobel Prize and the Merit Award.  He wrote poems and plays that became very popular and famous.  The more people that liked him and appreciated his works, the more and more important he became.

3) Is there a predominant theme in most of T.S. Eliot’s poetry?

        A. T.S. Eliot was mostly a Christian writer, but tried to hide it.  A lot of his poems use religious themes or have religion-based message.  Some of his poems when he first began writing where negative and had a sort of depressing theme.

4) Did people like T.S. Eliot when he was alive?

        A. First of all he won the Nobel Prize in literature.  He also won the Merit award for literature.  Also he wrote quite a few books.  People really liked T.S. Eliot’s work.  His books were sold throughout Europe and North America.

5) Why do we study T.S. Eliot in school today?

         A. T.S. Eliot’s work is complex and there is a lot of meaning hidden behind his words.  His work reflects on his life and the time period he was living through.  It takes studying and knowledge learned in school to fully appreciate his poetry.

Awards and T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot won the Nobel prize for literary excellence.  He also won a Merit award for literature.  T.S. Eliot was such a good poet that there is now a prize/award named after him.




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