Family tree of T. S. ELIOT

Author, Poet

EnglishBorn Thomas Stearns ELIOT

Publisher, playwright, literary and social critic and "arguably the most important English-language poet of the 20th century"

Born on September 26, 1888 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA , United States

Died on January 04, 1965 in London, England

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Eliot was born into the Eliot family, a middle class family originally from New England, who had moved to St. Louis, Missouri. His father, Henry Ware Eliot (1843–1919), was a successful businessman, president and treasurer of the Hydraulic-Press Brick Company in St. Louis. His mother, Charlotte Champe Stearns (1843–1929), wrote poetry and was a social worker, a new profession in the early twentieth century. Eliot was the last of six surviving children; his parents were both 44 years old when he was born. His four sisters were between eleven and nineteen years older; his brother was eight years older. Known to family and friends as Tom, he was the namesake of his maternal grandfather Thomas Stearns.

Several factors are responsible for Eliot's infatuation with literature during his childhood. First, Eliot had to overcome physical limitations as a child. Struggling from a congenital double hernia, a condition in which one’s intestines jut through the bowel wall and causes an abdominal rupture, Eliot was unable to participate in many physical activities and thus was prevented from interacting socially with his peers. As Eliot was often isolated, his love of literature developed. Once he learned to read, the young boy immediately became obsessed with books and was completely absorbed in tales depicting savages, the Wild West, or Mark Twain’s thrill-seeking Tom Sawyer. In his memoir of T.S. Eliot, Eliot’s friend Robert Sencourt comments that young Eliot “would often curl up in the window-seat behind an enormous book, setting the drug of dreams against the pain of living.” Secondly, Eliot also credited his hometown with seeding his literary vision: "It is self-evident that St. Louis affected me more deeply than any other environment has ever done. I feel that there is something in having passed one's childhood beside the big river, which is incommunicable to those people who have not. I consider myself fortunate to have been born here, rather than in Boston, or New York, or London." Thus, from the onset, literature was an essential part of Eliot's childhood and both his disability and location influenced him.


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Geographical origins

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