Famous Bipolar People


Born Thomas Stearns Elliot on September 26, 1888 in St. Louis, Missouri, he was a poet of Anglo-American descent. Elliot was a literary critic and a playwright as well. He is known to be the most popular English poet of the 20th century. His first poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was published in Chicago and earned him a lot of respect and recognition. He then published other poems which also became known as best poems at the time. Elliot attained British citizenship at the age of 39. He stated that the quality of English in his works stems from his English citizenship but the emotional roots are from his American origin.

He studied philosophy at Sorbonne and then proceeded to study at Harvard on scholarship. He studied Latin, French and Ancient Greek at Smith Academy and began writing at the age of 14. He wrote his first poem at the age of 15, which was published in the Smith Academy Record and then in The Harvard Advocate, a magazine for Harvard students. He went to Milton Academy from Smith where his poem The Waste Land was published. His poetry career intensified at Harvard, where he wrote many more poems that were published in The Harvard Advocate. He worked as a philosophy assistant at Harvard for a year and later moved to live in Paris. He came back to Harvard to study Indian Philosophy. Elliot taught as a schoolteacher in some schools before continuing his poetry career.


Elliot was believed to have suffered bipolar disorder in his life. Elliot suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of depression at the time he was seeking financing for a journal he proposed to publish. The breakdown was believed to have been caused by the numerous marital problems he was facing. He suffered another bout after the Munich Agreement between Chamberlain and Adolph Hitler. Though this was not very severe, he took some time to recover. Elliot’s writings are also believed to have been inspired by his bipolar disorder. He wrote the poem This Waste Land when recovering from one of his depressive breakdowns. Elliot was also reportedly aggressive, and this is said to be reflected in his works. Most of his poems either have some element of aggression or some gloomy emotions attached to them.

Elliot married Vivienne Haigh-Wood, a Cambridge governess but were divorced because according to Elliot, there was no happiness in the marriage. Elliot later married Esmé Valerie Fletcher, who was 37 years younger than him. They kept the ceremony secret. Elliot smoked heavily and suffered from bronchitis. He later died of emphysema and was cremated.


Elliot was accused of anti-Semitism, due to the portrayal of Jewish characters in his books and poems. However, Elliot had an impact on his society at that time and continues to influence today’s society through his poems and books. He made significant contributions to criticism of literature and has been very instrumental in developing the use of literary devices today.