Robert Penn Warren, Former UI Faculty

Prize Work: Now and Then: Poems 1976-1978; Pulitzer Prize 1980: Poetry

Promises: Poems, 1954-1956; Pulitzer Prize 1958: Poetry

All the King's Men; Pulitzer Prize 1947: Fiction

Robert Penn WarrenRobert Penn Warren (born 1905, died 1989) was an American writer.

Author Biography - Robert Penn Warren was born in Guthrie, Todd County, Kentucky, on April 24, 1905. He entered Vanderbilt University in 1921, where he became the youngest member of the group of Southern poets called the Fugitives, which included John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, Donald Davidson, and Merrill Moore. Warren's first poems were published in The Fugitive, a magazine which the group published from 1922 to 1925. The Fugitives were advocates of the rural Southern agrarian tradition and based their poetry and critical perspective on classical aesthetic ideals.

From 1925 to 1927, Warren was a teaching fellow at The University of California, where he earned a master degree. He then studied at New College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and returned to the United States in 1930. He taught at Vanderbilt, Louisiana State, The University of Minnesota, and Yale University. With Cleanth Brooks, he wrote Understanding Poetry (1938), a textbook which widely influenced New Criticism and the study of poetry at the college level in America.

Though regarded as one of the best poets of his generation, Warren was better known as a novelist and received tremendous recognition for All the King's Men, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1947. As his southern background was exchanged for a later life spent in New England, with homes in Fairfield, Connecticut and Stratton, Vermont, Warren's youthful conservatism eventually gave way to more liberal views, both aesthetically and socially.

Warren's poetry became less formal and more expansive, garnering even higher critical acclaim: his Promises: Poems, 1954-1956 won the Sidney Hillman Award, the Edna St. Vincent Millay Memorial Award, the National Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. In 1979 he earned a third Pulitzer Prize, this time for Now and Then: Poems, 1976-1978.

About Warren's work, critic Harold Bloom has said, "At their strongest, Warren's poems win their contest with the American Sublime and find a place with Melville's best poems, formidable exiles from our dominant, Emersonian tradition."

Warren served as a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets from 1972 until 1988, and was selected as a MacArthur Fellow in 1981. On February 26, 1986, Warren was named the first U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. He died September 15, 1989.

(Source: Poets.org)

Learn More About Warren's Prize Winning Work

All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

All the King's MenBook Description
This landmark book is a loosely fictionalized account of Governor Huey Long of Louisiana, one of the nation's most astounding politicians. All the King's Men tells the story of Willie Stark, a southern-fried politician who builds support by appealing to the common man and playing dirty politics with the best of the back-room deal-makers. Though Stark quickly sheds his idealism, his right-hand man, Jack Burden -- who narrates the story -- retains it and proves to be a thorn in the new governor's side. Stark becomes a successful leader, but at a very high price, one that eventually costs him his life. The award-winning book is a play of politics, society and personal affairs, all wrapped in the cloak of history.

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Front Cover| Excerpt | Back Cover
(Taken from Amazon.com)

Listen to Robert Penn Warren Read

Hear an audio clip of Robert Penn Warren reading at the Guggenheim Museum in 1977. (Source: Poets.org)
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Bibliography - Robert Penn Warren

At Heaven's Gate (1943)

All the King's Men (1946)

Band of Angels (1955)

Remember the Alamo! (1958)

Rumor Verified: Poems 1979-1980 (1981)

External Links on Robert Penn Warren