- 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 Universityin 1925 and the University of California, Berkeleyin 1926. Warren later attended Yale Universityand obtained his B. Litt. as a Rhodes Scholarfrom New College, Oxford, in Englandin 1930. That same year he began his teaching career at Southwestern College (now called Rhodes Collegein Memphis, Tennessee. [http://22.214.171.124/search?q=cache:bfYpGE2wUOAJ:www.emanuellevy.com/article.php%3FarticleID%3D3352+%22huey+long%22+married+in+memphis&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us] He also taught at Vanderbilt Universityand LSU. [http://126.96.36.199/search?q=cache:bfYpGE2wUOAJ:www.emanuellevy.com/article.php%3FarticleID%3D3352+%22huey+long%22+married+in+memphis&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us] In 1930, he married Emma Brescia; they later divorced in 1951. He then married Eleanor Clarkin 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 Minnesotaand lived the latter part of his life in Fairfield, Connecticut, and Stratton, Vermont. He also received a Guggenheim Fellowshipto study in Italyduring 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 Movementand 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 Prizein 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 Universityin Baton Rougefrom 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 Picturein 1949. A 2006 film adaptation by writer/director Steven Zaillianfeatured Sean Pennas Willie Stark and Jude Lawas Jack Burden.
In 1981, Warren was selected as a
MacArthur Fellowand later was named as the first U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetryon 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 Criticalapproach).
In April 2005, the
United States Postal Serviceissued 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.
* [http://thefsw.org/page/members/charter-members/robert-penn-warren Robert Penn Warren bio at The Fellowship of Southern Writers]
* [http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/17 Robert Penn Warren page at poets.org]
* [http://www.english.eku.edu/SERVICES/KYLIT/WARREN.HTM Robert Penn Warren page at KYLIT/Kentucky Literature]
* [http://www.vanderbilt.edu/rpw_center/center.htm Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities] at
* [http://www.robertpennwarren.com Robert Penn Warren site run by firstname.lastname@example.org]
* [http://www.theparisreview.org/results.php Interview in "The Paris Review", 1957]
* [http://www.yale.edu/opa/newsr/05-10-21-02.all.html Yale biography]
* [http://www.loc.gov/poetry/laureate-1937-1960.html Timeline of Poets Laureate] at the
Library of Congress
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