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TS Eliot, By John Worthen

Sympathy and sensitivity but still a streak of anti-Semitism

This biography takes us from Eliot's boyhood in St Louis, through his career as a student at Harvard, his move to Europe and the rift with his father, his tragic first marriage to Vivien, and, most importantly his development as poet, critic and playwright.

Worthen's focus is very much on the work, and he shows that much of Eliot's poetry reflects turmoils in his own emotional life. Eliot comes across as vulnerable and in some ways sympathetic beneath his buttoned-up exterior. But Worthen's efforts to mitigate the charges of anti-Semitism against Eliot backfire, if anything emphasising this ugly blot on the character of an otherwise kindly and sensitive man.