Thomas Stearns Eliot was born on September 26, 1888, in St. In 1906, he left Missouri to attend Harvard University. Eliot left the United States in 1910 to further his studies at the Sorbonne in France, after earning an undergraduate and masters degree at Harvard. While a student at Harvard, several of his poems were published in the Harvard Advocate. It is believed that during his days at Harvard, did Eliot discover the symbolists that came to be his greatest influences.
Eliot returned to the US after his first year in Paris, intending to complete a doctorate in Philosophy at Harvard, but his heart remained in Europe. He returned and settled in London, England in 1914. In 1915 he married Vivien Haigh-Wood, whose mental instability led to her confinement in institutions from 1930 until her death in 1947. The emotional difficulties produced by the marriage evidently prompted some intense passages in Eliot's poetry. Eliot was remarried to Valerie Fletcher in 1956. Living in London, he worked as a teacher and bank clerk and helped edit a magazine called The Egoist (1917-19). In London he also met his countryman Ezra Pound, who read Eliot's poems and responded enthusiastically. From 1920 to 1939, Eliot edited The Criterion, and in 1925 joined the publishers Faber and Gwyer as an editor; he later became a director of the firm, later renamed Faber and Faber. In 1927, he was confirmed in the Church of England and became a naturalized British citizen. Eliot was awarded the British Order of Merit in 1948, the same year he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. He received the American Medal of Freedom in 1964. He died in London on Jan. 4, 1965. .
Probably his most famous work, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, was published in the Chicago based journal Poetry in 1915, though evidence exists that Eliot had sketched the beginnings of this work during his years as a student at Harvard. His first book of poems, Prufrock and Other Observations, was published in 1917.