T. S. Eliot

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T. S. Eliot

Unitarian Connections of T.S. Eliot

T. S. Eliot's grandfather was William Greenleaf Eliot, the midwestern "conservative" Unitarian minister who helped found the First Unitarian Church in St. Louis and Washington University. Another ancestor was Andrew Eliot (18th century) who was a Congregational minister and President of Harvard -- and opponent of Anglicanism.

T. S. Eliot was thus related to Charles Eliot of Harvard, Abigail Adams Eliot and Samuel May Eliot, and to many other well-known Unitarians who shared the Eliot name. His parents, Henry Ware Eliot (1843-1919) and Charlotte Champe Stearns Eliot (1843-1929), were active Unitarians. Thomas Stearns Eliot was raised as a Unitarian.

When T. S. went to England, he became a British citizen and joined the Church of England (1927 -- in his late 30s). He did not find Unitarianism adequate for the crises of his life in the 1920s, apparently -- including his wife's continuing emotional problems and near death.

He's been described as a "Christian monarchist" and a reading of "The Idea of a Christian Society" (1940) would seem to put him far from the general Unitarian or Universalist position on the source of authority and on church polity: he supported an American national church which would be the final authority on Christian dogma and faith.

Resources

bullet Charlotte Champe Stearns Eliot and Henry Ware Eliot
bullet Samuel Atkins Eliot II
bullet Abigail Adams Eliot
bullet T. S. Eliot
bullet T. S. Eliot Society
bullet Counter-Attack: Biographies of Friends of Various First World War Poets

 

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