Robert Penn Warren

Robert Penn Warren

Robert Penn Warren (April 24, 1905 – September 15, 1989) was an American poet, novelist, and literary critic, and was one of the founders of New Criticism. He was also a charter member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. He is the only person to have won Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry. He won the Pulitzer in 1947 for his novel "All the King's Men" (1946) and won his subsequent Pulitzer Prizes for poetry in 1957 and then in 1979.


Warren was born on April 24, 1905, in Guthrie, Kentucky. [Ehrlich, Eugene and Gorton Carruth. "The Oxford Illustrated Literary Guide to the United States". New York: Oxford University Press, 1982: 291. ISBN 0195031865] He graduated from Clarksville High School in Tennessee, Vanderbilt University in 1925 and the University of California, Berkeley in 1926. Warren later attended Yale University and obtained his B. Litt. as a Rhodes Scholar from New College, Oxford, in England in 1930. That same year he began his teaching career at Southwestern College (now called Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. [] He also taught at Vanderbilt University and LSU. [] In 1930, he married Emma Brescia; they later divorced in 1951. He then married Eleanor Clark in 1952. They had two children, Rosanna Phelps Warren (b. July 1953) and Gabriel Penn Warren (b. July 1955). Though his works strongly reflect Southern themes and mindset, Warren published his most famous work, "All the King's Men", while a professor at The University of Minnesota and lived the latter part of his life in Fairfield, Connecticut, and Stratton, Vermont. He also received a Guggenheim Fellowship to study in Italy during the rule of Benito Mussolini. He died on September 15, 1989, of complications from bone cancer.


While still an undergraduate at Vanderbilt, Warren became associated with the group of poets there known as the Fugitives, and somewhat later, during the early 1930s, Warren and some of the same writers formed a group known as the Southern Agrarians. He contributed "The Briar Patch" to the Agrarian manifesto "I'll Take My Stand" along with 11 other Southern writers and poets (including fellow Vanderbilt poet/critics John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, and Donald Davidson). In "The Briar Patch" the young Warren defends racial segregation, in line with the traditionalist conservative political leanings of the Agrarian group, although Davidson deemed Warren's stances in the essay so progressive that he argued for excluding it from the collection. [Edwin Thomas Wood, "On Native Soil: A Visit with Robert Penn Warren," "Mississippi Quarterly" 38 (Winter 1984)] However, Warren recanted these views in the 1950s by writing an article in "Life" magazine on the Civil Rights Movement and adopted a high profile as a supporter of racial integration. He also published "Who Speaks for the Negro", a collection of interviews with black civil rights leaders including Malcolm X, in 1965, further distinguishing his political leanings from the more conservative philosophies associated with fellow Agrarians such as Tate, Cleanth Brooks, and particularly Davidson.

Warren served as the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, Poet Laureate, 1944-1945 and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1947, for his best known work, the novel "All the King's Men", whose main character, Willie Stark, resembles the radical populist governor of Louisiana, Huey Pierce Long (1893-1935), whom Warren was able to observe closely while teaching at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge from 1933-42. Warren won Pulitzer Prizes in poetry in 1958 for "Promises: Poems 1954-1956", and in 1979 for "Now and Then". He is the only writer ever to win the Pulitzer in both fiction and poetry. [Nelson, Randy F. "The Almanac of American Letters". Los Altos, California: William Kaufmann, Inc., 1981: 27. ISBN 086576008X] "All the King's Men," starring Broderick Crawford, became a highly successful film, winning the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1949. A 2006 film adaptation by writer/director Steven Zaillian featured Sean Penn as Willie Stark and Jude Law as Jack Burden.

In 1981, Warren was selected as a MacArthur Fellow and later was named as the first U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry on February 26, 1986. Warren was co-author, with Cleanth Brooks, of "Understanding Poetry", an influential literature textbook (which was followed by other similarly coauthored textbooks "Understanding Fiction", which was praised by Southern Gothic and Roman Catholic writer Flannery O'Connor, and "Modern Rhetoric" written from what can be called a New Critical approach).

In April 2005, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp to mark the 100th anniversary of Penn Warren's birth. Introduced at the Post Office in his native Guthrie, it depicts the author as he appeared in a 1948 photograph, with a background scene of a political rally designed to evoke the setting of "All the King's Men." His son and daughter, Gabriel and Rosanna Warren, were in attendance.



External links

* [ Robert Penn Warren bio at The Fellowship of Southern Writers]
* [ Robert Penn Warren page at]
* [ Robert Penn Warren page at KYLIT/Kentucky Literature]
* [ Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities] at Vanderbilt University
* [ Robert Penn Warren site run by]
* [ Interview in "The Paris Review", 1957]
* [ Yale biography]
* [ Timeline of Poets Laureate] at the Library of Congress

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  • Robert Penn Warren — 1968 Robert Penn Warren (* 24. April 1905 in Guthrie, Todd County, Kentucky; † 15. September 1989 in Stratton, Vermont) war ein amerikanischer Schriftsteller und Literaturkritiker. Er veröffentlichte 16 Bände mit Gedichten und 10 Romane. Er war …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Robert Penn Warren — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Robert Penn Warren Robert Penn Warren (24 de abril de 1905 15 de septiembre de 1989) fue un poeta estadounidense, novelista y crítico literario, así como uno de los fundadores de la Nueva Crítica. Fue también miembro …   Wikipedia Español

  • Robert Penn Warren — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Warren. Robert Penn Warren Robert Penn Warr …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Robert Penn Warren — noun United States writer and poet (1905 1989) • Syn: ↑Warren • Instance Hypernyms: ↑writer, ↑author, ↑poet * * * Robert Penn Warren [Robert Penn Warren …   Useful english dictionary

  • Robert Penn Warren — ➡ Warren (II) * * * …   Universalium

  • Warren,Robert Penn — Warren, Robert Penn. 1905 1989. American writer and critic primarily known for his poetry. His works include the novel All the King s Men (1946) and many poetry collections, such as Promises (1957). In 1985 he was appointed the first American… …   Universalium

  • Warren, Robert Penn — born April 24, 1905, Guthrie, Ky., U.S. died Sept. 15, 1989, Stratton, Vt. U.S. novelist, poet, and critic. Warren attended Vanderbilt University, where he joined the Fugitives, a group of poets who advocated the agrarian way of life in the South …   Universalium

  • Warren, Robert Penn — ► (1905 89) Escritor estadounidense. Sus novelas son históricas, de ambiente sureño, con influencias de la cultura bíblica. Autor de Todos los hombres del rey (premio Pulitzer 1946). * * * (24 abr. 1905, Guthrie, Ky., EE.UU.–15 sep. 1989,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Warren, Robert Penn —    см. Уоррен, Роберт Пени …   Писатели США. Краткие творческие биографии

  • WARREN (R. P.) — Robert Penn WARREN 1905 1989 Né en 1905 à Guthrie, petite ville du sud du Kentucky, Warren appartenait à une vieille famille sudiste; ses deux grands pères avaient participé à la guerre de Sécession, et l’un d’eux chez qui il passait ses vacances …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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