T.S. Eliot

September 26, 1888—January 4, 1965

Thomas Stearns (T. S.) Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on September 26, 1888. He was educated at Harvard, at the Sorbonne in Paris and at Merton College, Oxford. He settled in England in 1915 and taught briefly at two schools before joining Lloyds Bank in the City of London in their foreign and colonial department. His first volume of poems, Prufrock and Other Observations, was published in 1917. The Waste Land, his most famous work, came out in 1922. In 1925 he left the bank to become a director of the publishing house of Faber. There have been several collected editions of his poetry and volumes of his literary and social criticism. Eliot also wrote a number of verse plays, the best-known of which, Murder in the Cathedral, was commissioned for the Canterbury Festival of 1935. Four Quartets, now generally regarded as his masterpiece, was first published in 1943. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats appeared in October 1939. (Eliot had a great affection for cats and “Possum” was his alias among his friends.) Forty-two years later, this work would be combined with the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber to become Cats.

Eliot became a British citizen in 1927. He received many honors and distinctions, among them the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was posthumously awarded two 1983 Tony Awards for the book and lyrics of Cats. He was also an Officer de la Legion d’Honneur. He died in London in January, 1965, and there is a memorial to him in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey.

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Songs include

Memory,” Cats (With Trevor Nunn)