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William Rose Benét Biography

(1886–1950), Literary Review, Evening Post, Saturday Review of Literature, The Reader's Encyclopaedia

American poet and literary journalist, born in Fort Hamilton, New York, educated at Yale. The elder brother of the poet Stephen Vincent Benét and the third husband of the novelist and poet Elinor Wylie, Benét was associate editor of the Literary Review of the New York Evening Post and in 1924 he co-founded, with Christopher Morley, the influential Saturday Review of Literature. He compiled over fifteen anthologies of prose and poetry including the The Reader's Encyclopaedia (1948). His early verse, such as that collected in Merchants from Cathay (1913), or The Falconer of God and Other Poems (1914), is marked by strong rhythms and somewhat naïve democratic sentiment, while his later poems show the influence of free verse and modernist experimentation with monologue and dialogue in a manner that invites comparison with Robert Frost. Among other works are The Dust which Is God (1941; Pulitzer Prize), an autobiographical verse narrative; The First Person Singular (1922), a novel; and Day's End (1939), a play. His public appointments included the secretaryship of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Stanley Olson's Elinor Wylie, A Life Apart: A Biography (1979) contains some discussion of Benét's life and works.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais Biography to Michel Bibaud Biography