An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

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Eliot, Thomas Stearns

(T. S.) (Sept. 26, 1888-Jan. 4, 1965). Poet and literary critic. He was an American, born in St. Louis and educated at Harvard, the Sorbonne, and Merton College, Oxford. He became a British citizen. He worked and wrote in London most of his life. After being raised in the Unitarian tradition and going through a time of agnosticism, Eliot was baptized in the parish church at Finstock, Oxfordshire, in 1927. He subsequently declared his perspective in religion to be Anglo-catholic. His poetry reflected his intense faith, as his poem The Waste Land (1922) and The Hollow Men (1925) had expressed his earlier experience of meaninglessness. His religious poems include Journey of the Magi (1927) and Ash Wednesday (1930). Eliot was responsible to a large extent for the revival of interest in the so-called metaphysical poets, several of whom were Anglican priests, including John Donne, George Herbert, and Thomas Traherne. He also used Little Gidding, the religious house founded by Nicholas Ferrar, as the inspiration and title of one of his Four Quartets (1935-1942). Eliot wrote the play Murder in the Cathedral (1935), which deals with the martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. In 1948 Eliot received the Nobel Prize for literature and the Order of Merit.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.