Author Spotlight: T.S. Eliot

By Audrey W. | Arcadia Staff
T.S. Eliot was just a college student when he began contributing to the literary canon. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” was written in 1910, along with other poems that would come to define Eliot as an artist. His work played with many modernist themes, which helped position him at the center of the modernist movement. In honor of one of the country’s finest writers, here’s a look into the life and legacy of T.S. Eliot. 

Molding a Writer

Eliot was born Thomas Sterns Eliot in St. Louis, Missouri in 1888. He remained there until he turned 18, when he left to attend Harvard University. By 1910, he had earned both his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Harvard, and had published several poems with the Harvard Advocate. Shortly after graduating, Eliot moved to Paris, where he lived for a year before returning to America for a doctorate in philosophy. However, his time back in the U.S. was short-lived as Eliot moved to London in 1914. This would prove to be a pivotal move in the young writer’s career. 
 
In London, Eliot met fellow writer Ezra Pound, who immediately recognized the brilliance of Eliot’s work. Pound helped Eliot get his first major work, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” published in the 1915 edition of Poetry, a major literary magazine. He also assisted Eliot in getting a book of poems, Prufrock and Other Observances, published in 1917. These early publications moved Eliot into the spotlight of avant-garde writers. The  successful 1922 publication of The Waste Land solidified Eliot’s place as a leader among English-speaking modernist writers. 

Author T.S. Eliot.

Other Endeavors

Eliot complemented his creative work by pairing it with literary criticism. In the five years between 1916 and 1921, Eliot wrote over 100 reviews and articles critiquing his contemporaries. This outlet of his work started as a way to make additional money, however, he proved to have a skilled hand when it came to criticism, and was well-versed in philosophy and literature. His ideas gained traction with his readers, and later served as the foundation of the New Criticism school of literary study in the 20th century. 
 
Eliot was recognized early on as a central figure in the modernist movement. This gave him the footing to help define an era of literature and literary criticism. His work is still read and studied today, giving its readers as much insight as it did nearly a century ago. 
 
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