Thomas Stearns Eliot, born to a successful entrepreneur Henry Ware Eliot in the year 1888, was a remarkable poet, literary critic and dramatist. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, United States on September 26. Eliot came as an immigrant to the United Kingdom at the age of 25 (in the year 1914) and acquired British citizenship in the year 1927. However, he never favored one nation of the two and had equal liking to New England and the Southwest. For his outstanding contributions to the world of poetry, Eliot was awarded Nobel Prize in 1948.The Waste Land, The Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Hollow Men, etc. are the most prolific amongst his poems. There is a lot to know about T.S. Eliot and here are the 5 interesting facts people should know about him.
1) Friendship with Ezra Pound – The meeting of Pound and Eliot took place in Europe during 1914 and immediate friendship grew between them as both were exiles with great interest in arts.Before that, Eliot wandered many places to get his “Prufrock” published, but was rejected. In the year 1915, Ezra Pound suggested Harriet Monroe the founder of Poetry Magazine to publish the poem. The conversations, letters, poems and essays that have flown between them are considered as the driving force for Modernism.
2) First marriage & The Waste Land – On June 26, 1915 T.S. Eliot married Vivienne Haigh-Wood; unfortunately, the marriage didn’t turn out to be a happy union as she suffered from frequent migraines, insomnia, colitis, fatigue, high temperature along with mental instability. Eliot had to suffer mentally by looking at her wife constantly visiting doctors and he stated that the torment he felt during those has encouraged him to write “The Waste Land”.
3) Captain – Lyndall Gordon, the biographer of Eliot in the book “T.S. Eliot: A Modern Life”, writes about a fascinating behavior of Eliot.During the early parts of the 1920s, there were two hideaways for Eliot one at Charing Cross Road and the other at St. Martin’s Lane. When he was in the former, he only responded when people called him “The Captain” and when he was in the latter, he only responded when people called him “Captain Eliot”.
4) Faber & Faber – Eliot was considered a practical joker while working at Faber & Faber. This was due to his behavior during a board meeting where he placed firecrackers between the legs of the chairman and set them off. Furthermore, he greeted the authors with whoopee cushions on the chairs and offering explosive cigars.
5) Anti-Semitism – Is T.S. Eliot a hater of Jews? There are many literary critics like Harold Bloom, George Steiner, James Fenton, Christopher Ricks, and James Fenton, who criticized Eliot of adopting anti-Semitic elements in his works. Anthony Julius in his work “T.S. Eliot, Anti-Semitism, and Literary Form revealed the comparison of Jews with rats in the poem “Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar”.
T.S. Eliot, considered as the most enigmatic figure of his age, died on January 4, 1965, in his Kensington home, London. The man who effectively delivered a lecture to 13,523 people at the University of Minnesota became silent forever because of emphysema, but his works will forever remain inspirational and influential.