TS Eliot

TS Eliot Biography and Best Works

TS Eliot [Thomas Stearns Eliot ]was an American-English poet, literary critic, essayist, dramatist, publisher and editor. He is considered a great figure in modern poetry.

Table of Contents

TS Eliot:

Born26 September 1888, St. Louis, USA
Died4 January 1965, London, England

“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”

― T.S. Eliot

Family :

  • TS Eliot’s full name was Thomas Stearns Eliot.
  • TS Eliot was born on 26 September 1888 in S.T Louis, Missouri, USA in a Boston Family and died on 4 January 1965 in London, England.
  • His grand Father, William Greenleaf Eliot was an American Educator and Unitarian minister. He is notable for founding Washington University in ST Louis.
  • His father Henry Ware Eliot was a successful businessman and President of the Hydraulic-Press Brick Company in St Louis, US.
  • His mother Charlotte Champe Eliot was a teacher, poet and social worker.

Early Life And Education:

  • Eliot was the last of six surviving children. He was struggling with a congenital double ” inguinal hernia”, he could not participate in many social activities for this. And this can also be the reason for his obsession with literature and books.
  • Eliot attended Smith Academy from 1898 to 1905 where he studied Latin, Ancient Greek, French, and German.
  • He did graduate in philosophy at the Sorbonne, Harvard, and Merton College, Oxford. He also attended Milton Academy in Massachusetts for the prior year.
  • He studied Indian philosophy and Sanskrit from 1911 to 1914.
  • Eliot was awarded a scholarship to Merton College, Oxford, in 1914.
  • In 1916 he completed his doctoral on “Knowledge and Experience in the Philosophy of F.H Bradley” but did not get a degree because he failed to attend the viva voce exam.

Love life and marriage:

  • Eliot met and fell in love with Emily Hale. He moved from the US to London. He exchanged letters with her from Oxford from 1914 to 1915. Again they meet with each other, from 1933 to 1946 Eliot had a close emotional relationship with Emily Hale. But Eliot destroyed her letters and Hale donated his letters to Princeton University Library and they were sealed until 2020.
  • TS Eliot was introduced to a governess of Cambridge “Vivienne Haigh-Wood “ and they were married on 26 June 1915. But his marriage with Vivienne was unhappy because of her health problems. In a letter to Ezra Pound, she described her symptoms like Fatigue, migraines, Insomnia and Colitis. She used to consume opium and drugs prescribed by doctors for her medical issue .Many witnesses, claimed that Eliot constantly complained about her mental and physical illness. Eliot also consumed excessive drinks. And she was often sent away by Eliot to improve her health conditions but as time went he detached from her and they finally separated in 1933. Her brother, Maurice sent her to a mental asylum in 1938 without her consent where she remained until her death because of heart disease in 1947.
  • From 1938 to 1957 Eliot’s public companion was Mary Trevelyan who wanted to marry him but their relationship didn’t work out.
  • Eliot was again married to Valerie Eliot (Esmé Valerie Fletcher) who was almost 40 years junior to him. She met Eliot during her job at ‘Faber and Faber ‘ in 1949. They married on 10 January 1957 and remained together til death.

Life and works:

  • Eliot worked as a school teacher at Highgate School in London, where he taught French and Latin.
  • He also worked for Lloyds bank in London, on foreign accounts.
  • In 1925 Eliot left Lloyds to become a director in the publishing firm  Faber and Faber, where he remained for the rest of his career.
  • He gave up his American citizenship in 1927 and took British Citizenship.
  • Eliot significantly contributed to the field of criticism, his work like” Traditional and the Individual talents” is considered the inspiration for the ‘new criticism movement’.
  • He was a great admirer of Metaphysical poets. He is also influenced by his close friend Ezra Pound.
  • He also contributed to the field of poetry through his works like The Waste Land, The love song of J Alfred Prufrock, Portrait of a Lady and Preludes.


Literary awards:

  • He got the highest award Noble prize in literature 1948  “for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry”.
  • Hanseatic Goethe Prize 1955
  • Dante Medal (Florence) (1959)

Drama Awards:

  • 1950 Tony Award for Best Play for the Broadway production of The Cocktail Party
  • 1983 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for his poems used in the musical Cats (posthumous award)

National and state awards:

  • Order of Merit 1948 (United Kingdom )
  • Officier de la Légion d’honneur 1951(France)
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom 1964(United States)


Poetry :

  • Preludes
  • Rhapsody on a Windy Night
  • Morning at the Window
  • The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock
  • Portrait of a Lady
  • Aunt Helen
  • Cousin Nancy
  • Mr Apollinax


  • Animula (1929)
  • Marina (1930)
  • Triumphal March (1931)
  • The Cultivation of Christmas Trees (1954)
  • Journey of the Magi. – London: Faber & Gwyer, 1927
  • The Waste Land (1922)
  • The Hollow Men(1925)
  • Ash Wednesday(1930)


  • Sweeney Agonistes ( 1926)
  • The Rock (1934)
  • Murder in the Cathedral (1935)
  • The Family Reunion (1939)
  • The Cocktail Party (1949)
  • The Confidential Clerk (1953)
  • The Elder Statesman(1959)


  • Christianity & Culture (1939, 1948)
  • The Second-Order Mind (1920)
  • Tradition and the Individual Talent (1920)
  • The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism(1920)
  • Homage to John Dryden (1924)
  • Shakespeare and the Stoicism of Seneca (1928)
  • For Lancelot Andrewes (1928)
  • Dante (1929)
  • Selected Essays, 1917-1932 (1932)
  • The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism (1933)
  • After Strange Gods (1934)
  • Elizabethan Essays (1934)
  • Essays Ancient and Modern (1936)
  • The Idea of a Christian Society (1939
  • Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1948)
  • Poetry and Drama (1951)
  • The Three Voices of Poetry (1954)
  • Posthumous publications:
  • To Criticize the Critic (1965)
  • Poems Written in Early Youth (1967)
  • The Waste Land: Facsimile Edition (1974)
  • Inventions of the March Hare: Poems 1909–1917(1996)

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