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About Robert Penn Warren
Robert Penn Warren, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, poet and educator, was born in April 24, 1905 in Guthrie, Kentucky and spent his childhood on a tobacco farm. In 1920, he was blinded in one eye in an accident, which aborted his planned naval career. Shortly thereafter, he entered Vanderbilt University in Nashville to study engineering. In Nashville, he befriended a group of prominent writers, including the poets Alan Tate (Warren's roommate) and John Crowe Ransom (one of his teachers). The influence on Warren of this new generation of poets, called "The Fugitives,” was obvious and his first poems were published in their literary magazine The Fugitive. He continued his studies at the University of California and Yale. In 1928, he went to Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar and studied English literature. The following year he published the biography, John Brown: The Making of a Martyr.

Warren began a long and distinguished teaching career in 1930 at Southwestern College in Memphis and was married to Emma Brescia. He went on to teach at his alma mater, Vanderbilt, and at Louisiana State University.

He quickly became one of the top literary minds of his generation and was instrumental in the founding of the Southern Review, one of the most influential and highly respected literary journals of the period. In 1942, he left the South to teach creative writing at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

His first two novels were never published. The third, Night Rider, was published in 1939 and established his reputation as a first-rate literary talent. Like the other nine novels he published over the next four decades, it was about the South.

Of all his novels, All the King's Men, published in 1946, was his best-received and most popular, detailing the rise and fall of a political demigod, Willie Stark, as told by one of his cronies, Jack Burden. It won him the first of three Pulitzer Prizes and has been translated into 20 languages. His other novels included At Heaven's Gate, Night Rider, World Enough and Time, The Cave, The Flood, Band of Angels, Wilderness and Meet Me in the Green Glen. His last novel, the highly-autobiographical A Place to Come To, was published in 1976.

Warren's other two Pulitzers were for his poetry. His first collection was published in 1944 and the autobiographical poem Brothers to Dragons appeared in 1953. His next collection, Promises, Poems, was published in 1957

In 1950, Warren left the University of Minnesota and became a playwriting professor at Yale University. Soon thereafter, he divorced his first wife and married Eleanor Clark, with whom he had two children.

As an eminent writer and historian about the South, past and present, Warren also wrote about significant social issues such as Segregation: The Inner Conflict in the South (1956) and a collection of interviews with civil rights leaders Who Speaks for the Negro? (1965).

Three years before his death in 1989, Warren was named the first Poet Laureate of the United States.

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