Witter Brynner

Updated September 23, 2019 | Infoplease Staff

Bynner, Witter



Born at Brooklyn, Aug. 10, 1881. Graduated at Harvard University in 1902. After his graduation, until 1906, he served as assistant editor of `McClure's Magazine' and literary editor of McClure, Phillips & Co. Since that time he has devoted himself exclusively to the writing of poetry and drama, with the exception of a year spent as a special lecturer upon Poetry at the University of California. While at the University, Mr. Bynner's "Canticle of Praise", written to celebrate peace after the World War, was given in the open-air Greek Theatre at Berkeley to an audience of 8000 persons. Mr. Bynner's first volume, "An Ode to Harvard and Other Poems", was published in 1907, and was followed in 1913 by the poetic drama, "Tiger"; in 1915 by "The New World", amplified from his Phi Beta Kappa Poem delivered at Harvard in 1911; in 1917 by "The Little King", a poetic drama; in 1917 also by "Grenstone Poems", a collection of his lyric work to date. In 1916, in connection with his friend, Arthur Davison Ficke, Mr. Bynner perpetrated the clever literary hoax of "Spectra", a volume of verse in the ultra-modern manner, designed to establish a new "school" of poetry that should outdo "Imagism" and other cults then in the public eye. These poems, published under the joint authorship of Emanuel Morgan and Anne Knish, created much comment, and in spite of their bizarre features were taken seriously by well-known critics, who were much discomfited when the truth of the matter was known. In 1919 Mr. Bynner published "The Beloved Stranger", a volume of `vers libre', written in a style that grew out of the "Spectra" experiment, but divested of its extravagant features.

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