Thomas Stearns Eliot (September 26, 1888 - January 4, 1965) was an American poet, dramatist, and literary critic.
Eliot was born into a prominent Unitarian Saint Louis, Missouri family. Following his graduation from Harvard University in 1909, T.S. Eliot made his life and literary career in Britain. Eliot was a professional banker with Lloyd’s Bank for many years. Later, he became head of the publishing firm, Faber. Though a rather conservative and authoritarian figure, it is noteworthy that under Eliot’s tutelage, Faber published works by a generation of “radical” younger English poets including Auden and Ted Hughes.
Through the influence of friend and mentor and fellow-poet Ezra Pound he came to prominence with the publication of a poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, in 1915.
In 1922 Eliot’s long and probably most famous poem “The Waste Land” was published. This remarkable poem offers a bleak portrait of post-World War I Europe as a “waste land”, a place of sterility and stunted lives. Set in contemporary London, but constantly moving backwards and forwards in time, it is in a sense a portrait of a failed civilization. Despite the famous difficulty of the poem--its slippage between satire and prophecy, its abrupt and unannounced changes of speaker, location and time, its elegaic but intimidating summoning up of a vast and dissonant range of cultures and literatures--the poem has nonetheless become a familiar touchstone of modern literature, many of its phrases entering the common idiom: "April is the cruellest month"; "I will show you fear in a handful of dust"; "Shantih shantih shantih."
Ezra Pound contributed greatly to the poem with his editorial advice (the facsimile edition of the original manuscript with Pound's queries and corrections, published in 1971, is essential reading for admirers of the poem); in acknowledgement, Eliot later dedicated the poem to him: "For Ezra