Late in his life T. S. Eliot, when asked if his poetry belonged in the tradition of American literature, replied: "I'd say that my poetry has obviously more in common with my distinguished contemporaries in America than with anything written in my generation in England. That I'm sure of. . . . In its sources, in its emotional springs, it comes from America." In T. S. Eliot: The Making of an American Poet, James Miller offers the first sustained account of Eliot's early years, showing that the emotional springs of his poetry did indeed come from America. Born in 1888 in St. Louis, Missouri, T. S. Eliot grew up along the Mississippi River, only a few miles down river from Hannibal, the boyhood home of another great American writer, Mark Twain. Miller recounts Eliot's early years in St. Louis schools and follows him in the summers as he vacationed with his family in their Gloucester, Massachusetts, home perched on the Atlantic Ocean's edge. In 1905 at the age of seventeen, Eliot left the Midwest for what would prove to be a lasting separation-attending Milton Academy in Massachusetts for one year and then Harvard for nine years, as an undergraduate and as a graduate student in philosophy. The first time he ventured abroad was 1910, when he spent a crucial year studying in Paris and forming a deep friendship with the Frenchman Jean Verdenal. It was not until 1914, when Eliot was 26 years old, that he left America for England-and found reasons to stay there permanently, becoming a British citizen in 1927. Miller challenges long-held assumptions about Eliot's poetry and his life. Eliot himself always maintained that his poems were not based on personal experience, and thus should not be readas personal poems. But Miller convincingly combines a reading of the early work-from his earliest poems through 1922, the year The Waste Land was published-with careful analysis of surviving early correspondence, accounts from Eliot's friends and acquaintances, and new scholarship that delves into Eliot's Harvard years. Ultimately, Miller demonstrates that Eliot's poetry is filled with reflections of his personal experiences: his relationships with family, friends, and wives; his sexuality; his intellectual and social development; his influences. Publication of T. S. Eliot: The Making of an American Poet marks a milestone in Eliot scholarship. At last we have a balanced portrait of the poet and the man, one that takes seriously his American roots. In the process, we gain a fuller appreciation for some of the best-loved poetry of the twentieth century. Eliot may have lived most of his life abroad, but he was and continued to be an American poet.Miller, James E., Jr. is the author of 'T. S. Eliot', published 2008 under ISBN 9780271027623 and ISBN 0271027622.