Stephen Vincent Benét (1898-1943) was an American poet and writer of short stories and Western novels. His works include John Brown’s Body (1928), Ballads and Poems, 1915-30 (1931), Thirteen O’Clock (1937), and Western Star (1943). He won Pulitzer Prizes for John Brown’s Body and Western Star.
Life and Works
Benét was born July 22, 1898. He and his brother William were raised in various military homes, as their father traveled frequently, and it was there he developed an interest in Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, and G.K. Chesterton. By the time he attended Yale University in 1915, he had already published Five Man and Pompey, a collection of dramatic monologues, and published a novel, The Beginning of Wisdom (1921) upon his received a master of arts degree. During the Roaring Twenties, he was best known for his short magazine articles about small town life, though sometimes he though they were substandard. He published a few novels during the time, including Spanish Bayonet (1926), set in colonial Florida, but John Brown's Body was the one that established him as a famous novelist. He continued to publish short stories and novels, including the well-known "The Devil and Daniel Webster," a play set in 19th century America in which Daniel Webster saves a man from fulfilling his deal with the devil. He died March 13, 1943 in New York City of a heart attack.
- The New York Public Library Student's Desk Reference. Prentice Hall, New York, 1993.
- "Stephen Vincent Benét." Poetry Foundation. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/stephen-vincent-benet
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