T.S. Eliot

Biographical Information
Photo Credit: Alfred Eisenstaedt / LIFE
Name

T.S. Eliot

Birth

September 26, 1888, St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Death

January 04, 1965 Place of Death, London, United Kingdom

Country of Origin/Citizenship

United States/American; in 1927 became a naturalized British citizen

Kind of Artist/Cultural Worker

poet, dramatist, literary critic, editor, publisher

Avant-Garde Movements Associated With

modernism, new criticism

Date & Places of Overlap with Loy

New York October 1916 - January 1918

One of the most influential intellects of the 20th century, Thomas Stearns (T.S.) Eliot was born on September 26, 1888 in St. Louis, Missouri. The youngest of seven children, Eliot attended Harvard in 1906, completing his M.A. in 1910 after which he traveled to Paris for a year, then returned to Harvard to study philosophy. Eliot met Ezra Pound in London in 1914; Pound became an advocate for Eliot’s poetry and publication.

While Eliot is well known for his poetry, he published few poems within his lifetime. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1911) is known for its “stream of consciousness” style and The Wasteland (1922) shows Eliot’s more developed concept of “the poem-as-palimpsest,” or, the layering of images and textual references. Eliot’s disastrous marriage to Vivien Haigh-Wood in 1915 proved to be one of his biggest poetic influences. Through the first seven years of their marriage, Eliot continuously attempted to reach his wife and improve their marriage, blaming himself for his wife’s insanity. The theme of isolation is prominent throughout Eliot’s poetry, whether on a global or individual scale.

Eliot left his job as a banker in 1925 to serve as a board director for the publishing house Faber & Gwyer. He was naturalized as a British citizen in November of 1927, following a conversion to the Anglican Church. Throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s, Eliot worked primarily as a publisher and editor; the Four Quartets (1942) marked the end of Eliot’s poetry career. Perhaps the largest turning point for Eliot’s personal life was the death of his first wife in 1947. He was finally free from an all-consuming marital stress which lasted 30 years. In 1949, he met Esme Valerie Fletcher whom he married in 1957. This was a happy union and blissful time in Eliot’s life.

As a literary critic, Eliot published numerous essays, including Hamlet and His Problems (1919), The Metaphysical Poets (1921), and To Criticize the Critic and Other Writings (1965). He wrote numerous articles for The Egotist, was an editor of Poetry magazine, and was the publisher of Criterion. Eliot died January 4, 1965 in London, England.

While it is thought that, T.S. Eliot and Mina Loy never met, missing each other in New York, Eliot being there briefly in 1915, and Loy visiting in 1916 for just over a year, Eliot’s connection to Loy is important. Not only were they contemporaries, but Pound and Eliot were important, giving Loy’s early work critical notice. Eliot evaluates the poetry of both Marianne Moore and Loy in his 1918 article, “Observations,” preferring Moore’s poetry, nonetheless giving Loy praise. Eliot commends Moore’s poem “My Apish Cousins” (1921). He criticizes Loy’s poem “Human Cylinders” but praises her poem “Effectual Marriage.” Eliot quotes Pound’s discussion of the “logopoeia” of both authors, echoing Pound’s compliments (Hoogestraat). Most famously, Eliot says that Loy “has not here presented such a bulk of work as Miss Moore, and it is impossible to tell whether there is a positive oeuvre or only a few good successes.” Loy was well aware of this mixed criticism.

Both Loy and Eliot’s poetry appeared in different periodicals around the same times, from Others: A Magazine of New Verse in 1915 to The Dial in 1922 (Perloff). In fact, in the November 1922 issue of The Dial, both Eliot’s The Wasteland appears as well as two of Loy’s poems, Apology of Genius and Brancusi’s Golden Bird. Their poetry is often compared, especially Eliot’s The Wasteland and Loy’s Love Songs (Burke).

Works Cited

Burke, Carolyn, et al. “Mina Loy Interview with Paul Blackburn and Robert Vas Dias.” Mina Loy:


Woman and Poet, edited by Keith Tuma and Maeera Shreiber, National Poetry Foundation, 1998, 205–243. Print.


Hoogestraat, Jane. “‘Akin to Nothing but Language’: Pound, Laforgue, and Logopoeia.” ELH, vol. 55, no. 1, 1988, pp. 259–285. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2873118.


The Dial. edited by Jansen, McClurg. The Dial Publishing Company: Chicago, vol. 73, July–Dec. 1922. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015031076568?urlappend=%3Bseq=1.


Perloff, Marjorie. “ENGLISH AS A ‘SECOND’ LANGUAGE : Mina Loy’s ‘Anglo-Mongrels and the Rose.’” Jacket # 5 – Marjorie Perloff – MINA LOY’S “ANGLO-MONGRELS AND THE ROSE”, 1998, jacketmagazine.com/05/mina-anglo.html.


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