T.S. Eliot was born in St.Louis in 1888 and educated at Harvard, the Sorbonne and Oxford University. He settled in England during the First World War and he worked in London, first as a bank clerk, then as a publisher.
His early important poem, "The Love Song of Alfred Prufrock", was appeared in 1915 and, in the same year, he got married for the first time. His first book of criticism was published in 1920 and "The Waste Land" two years later. By this time Eliot was already being acknowledged as the leading literary figure of his generation.
He converted to Christianity, after many years of search for religious truth, as illustrated by the poems "The Hollow Men" and "Journey of the Magi" and already evident also in some passages of "The Waste Land". In 1927 he renounced also his American citizenship and became a British citizen. Eliot called himself a "classicist in literature, royalist in politics, anglo-catholic in religion". In fact, he began to attend the Anglican Church, then he converted to Anglicanism and professed conservative ideas. The conversion to the Anglican religion was very important in his life and greatly has influenced his literary production, which became more attentive to religious themes and less pessimistic.
His literary production, infact, is composed of pessimist works written before his conversion ("The Love Song of Alfred Prufrock", "The Waste Land" and "Hallow Men") and optimistic works written after his conversion ("Journey of the Magi", "Murder in the Cathedral", "Four Quartets" and "Ash Wedneday").
In the 1930 Eliot has attempted at reviving verse drama. The work of most successful was "Murder in the Cathedral" about the martyrdom of Thomas Becket in 1170. At the same time the first poem of his greatest work, "Four Quartets", was published. This period was obscured however by his separation from his wife. In 1948 he received the Nobel Prize for literature.
He died in London in 1965.
T.S. Eliot was one of the two great English-speaking Modernist poets of the first half of the 20th century, another was Yeats.