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Warren, Robert Penn

(US, 1905–89)

Penn Warren was a distinguished man of letters, one of the pioneers of the New Criticism, who also became the United States’ first Poet Laureate. He was born in Kentucky, and his fiction reflects upon the history and psychology of the South; it tends towards the melodramatic, and often employs richly poetic prose. Night Rider (1939) is set at the turn of the century, and concerns conflict between Kentucky tobacco farmers. Several of his novels deal with business and political corruption. At Heaven's Gate (1943) depicts Bogan Murdock's efforts to conceal financial irregularities while his daughter slides into alcoholism; and Warren's best-known work, All the King's Men (1946), shows the charismatic governor Willie Stark drawing everyone around him into corrupt obligations. The latter won the Pulitzer Prize, and was based on the career of the assassinated Louisiana demagogue, Huey Long; it was made into an Oscar-winning movie starring Broderick Crawford.

William Faulkner, Frank O'Connor  JS

Additional topics

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Tr-Z)