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Robert Penn Warren

Warren, Robert Penn, 1905–89, American novelist, poet, and critic, b. Guthrie, Ky., grad. Vanderbilt Univ. 1925; M.A., Univ. of California 1927; B.Litt., Oxford 1930. At Vanderbilt he became associated with John Crowe Ransom and the group of Southern agrarian poets who made the Fugitive (1922–25) an important literary magazine. He was managing editor with Cleanth Brooks of the Southern Review. Warren first gained recognition as a poet. His early verse was much influenced by the metaphysical poets, but his later poetry is simpler and more regional. Among his volumes of poetry are Thirty-six Poems (1935); Brother to Dragons (1953; Pulitzer), a long, dramatic poem; Promises (1957; Pulitzer), Selected Poems: New and Old (1966), Incarnations (1968), Audubon: A Vision (1969), Or Else (1974), and New and Selected Poems 1923–1985 (1985). Warren's most famous novel is All the King's Men (1946; Pulitzer), which concerns the rise to power of a political demagogue resembling Huey Long. Among his other novels are World Enough and Time (1950), The Cave (1959), Wilderness (1961), Flood (1964), Meet Me in the Green Glen (1971), and A Place to Come To (1977). His other works include a collection of short stories, The Circus in the Attic (1948), and Selected Essays (1958). In 1986 he became the first poet laureate of the United States.

See biography by J. Blotner (1997); correspondence with C. Brooks (1998), ed. by J. A. Grimshaw, Jr.; studies by C. Bohner (1964, rev. ed. 1981), J. Justus (1981), and K. Snipes (1984).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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