Biography of T. S. Eliot

Personal Information: Family: Born September 26, 1888, in St. Louis, Missouri, United States; moved to England, 1914, naturalized British subject, 1927; died January 4, 1965, in London, England; buried in Westminster Abbey; son of Henry Ware (president of Hydraulic Press Brick Co. ) and Charlotte Chauncey (a teacher, social worker and writer; maiden name Stearns) Eliot; married Vivienne Haigh Haigh-Wood (a dancer), January, 1915 (divorced c. 1930; died, 1947); married (Esme) Valerie Fletcher (his private secretary before their marriage), 1957; children: none.

Education: Attended Smith Academy (of Washington University), St. Louis, 1898-1905; Milton Academy, Milton, MA, graduated, 1906; Harvard University, B. A. (philosophy), 1909, M. A. (philosophy), 1910, graduate study, 1911-14 (his doctoral dissertation “Experience and the Objects of Knowledge in the Philosophy of F. H. Bradley,” was accepted in 1916 but never presented for the degree; the dissertation was published in 1964 as Knowledge and Experience in Philosophy of F. H. Bradley); attended University of Paris (Sorbonne), 1910-11; studied in Munich, 1914; read philosophy at Merton, Oxford, 1914-15; also studied under Edward Kennard Rand, Irving Babbitt, and Alain Fournier, and attended courses given by Henri Bergson. Politics: Conservative (“royalist”). Religion: Church of England (Anglo-Catholic wing; confirmed, 1927; served as vestryman in a London church). (In his 1028 essay “For Lancelot Andrewes,” Eliot called himself a “classicist,” “royalist,” and “Anglican.

Later, in After Strange Gods, he regretted that declaration as “injudicious. “) Military/Wartime Service: None; was rejected by the U. S. Navy, 1918, because of poor health. Memberships: Classical Association (president, 1941), Virgil Society (president, 1943), Books Across the Sea (president, 1943-46), American Academy of Arts and Sciences (honorary member), Accademia dei Lincei (Rome; foreign member), Bayerische Akademie der Schoenen Kuenste (Munich; foreign member), Athenaeum, Garrick Club, Oxford and Cambridge Club.

Career: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, assistant in philosophy department, 1913-14; teacher of French, Latin, mathematics, drawing, geography, and history at High Wycombe Grammar School, London, then at Highgate School, London, 1915-17; Lloyds Bank Ltd. , London, clerk in the Colonial and Foreign Department, 1917-25; The Egoist, London, assistant editor, 1917-19; founder of the Criterion (literary quarterly), London, 1922, and editor, 1922-39 (ceased publication, at Eliot’s decision, in 1939 because of the war and paper shortage); Faber and Gwyer Ltd. (publishers), later Faber & Faber Ltd. London, literary editor and member of the advisory hoard, 1925-65. Clark Lecturer at Trinity College, Cambridge, 1926; Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University, six months, 1932-33; Page-Barbour Lecturer at University of Virginia, 1933; resident at Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, 1948; Theodore Spencer Memorial Lecturer at Harvard University, 1950; lecturer at University of Chicago during the fifties; lecturer at Library of Congress, at University of Texas, at University of Minnesota, and before many other groups. President of London Library, 1952-65.

Awards: Sheldon Travelling Fellowship for study in Munich, 1914; Dial award ($2,000), 1922, for The Waste Land; Nobel Prize for Literature, 1948; Order of Merit, 1948; Commander, Ordre des Arts et des Lettres; Officier de la Legion d’Honneur; New York Drama Critics Circle Award and Antoinette Perry (“Tony”) Award, 1950, for The Cocktail Party as best foreign play; Hanseatic Goethe Prize of Hamburg University, 1954; Dante Gold Medal (Florence), 1956; Ordre pour le Merite (West Germany), 1959; Emerson-Thoreau Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1959; honorary fellow of Merton College, Oxford, and of Magdalene College, Cambridge; honorary citizen of Dallas, TX; honorary deputy sheriff of Dallas County, TX;

Campion Medal of the Catholic Book Club, 1963, for “long and distinguished service to Christian letters”; received President Johnson’s award for distinguished contribution to American literature and public life. Honorary degrees: Litt. D. , Columbia University, 1933, Cambridge University, 1938, University of Bristol, 1938, University of Leeds, 1939, Harvard University 1947, Yale University, 1947, Princeton University, 1947, Washington University, 1953, University of Rome, 1958, University of Sheffield, 1959; LL. D. , University of Edinburgh, 1937, St. Andrews’ University, 1953; D. Litt. , Oxford University, 1948, University of London, 1950; D. Philos. , University of Munich, 1959; D. es L. , University of Paris, 1959, Universite d’Aix-Marseille, 1959, University of Rennet, 1959; Antoinette Perry Award for book of a musical, 1983 for Cats.


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