April 28

This Day in History

Literary

Apr 28, 1925:

T.S. Eliot accepts a job at Faber and Faber publishers

Poet T.S. Eliot accepts a position as editor at Faber and Faber publishers. The job allows Eliot, who is already recognized as a major poet, to quit his job as a bank clerk at Lloyd's Bank in London. He holds the publishing position until his death, in 1965.

Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to a well-established family. His grandfather had founded Washington University in St. Louis, his father was a businessman, and his mother was involved in local charities. Eliot took an undergraduate degree at Harvard, studied at the Sorbonne, returned to Harvard to study Sanskrit, and then studied at Oxford. After meeting poet and lifelong friend Ezra Pound, Eliot moved permanently to England. In 1915, he married Vivian Haigh-Wood, but the marriage was unhappy, partly due to her mental instability. She died in an institution in 1947.

Eliot began working at Lloyd's Bank in 1917, writing reviews and essays on the side. He founded a critical quarterly, Criterion, and quietly developed a new brand of poetry. His first major work, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, was published in 1917 and was hailed as the invention of a new kind of poetry. His long, fragmented images and use of blank verse influenced nearly all future poets, as did his masterpiece The Waste Land, published in Criterion and the American review Dial in 1922. While Eliot is best known for revolutionizing modern poetry, his literary criticism and plays were also successful.

Eliot lectured in the U.S. frequently in the 1930s and '40s, a time when his own worldview was undergoing rapid change as he converted to Christianity. In 1957, he married his assistant Valerie Fletcher. The couple lived happily until his death, in 1965.

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