Irita Bradford Van Doren

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Irita Bradford Van Doren (March 16, 1891 – December 18, 1966) was an American literary figure and editor of the New York Herald Tribune book review for 37 years.

Born Irita Bradford in Birmingham, Alabama, her family moved to Tallahassee, Florida when she was four. Her father owned a sawmill and was killed by a disgruntled former employee when she was nine, so her mother had to support four children through music lessons and selling preserves.

She graduated from the Florida State College for Women in 1908. She studied at Columbia University for her doctorate in English while teaching part-time at Hunter College. While at Columbia, she met fellow grad student Carl Van Doren, future Pulitzer Prize winner and member of the literary Van Doren family. They married in 1912, had three children, and divorced in 1935.

She and her husband both joined the staff of The Nation in 1919 and she succeeded him as literary editor in 1923. She became assistant to Stuart Sherman, book editor of the New York Herald Tribune, in 1924 and succeeded him when he died in 1926. She held this post until 1963 and became an influential and prominent figure in American letters.

Due to a mutual interest in southern history (Van Doren was the granddaughter of Union General William T. H. Brooks), she met Wendell Willkie, the Republican presidential nominee in 1940. Publicly good friends, they carried on a lengthy romantic affair. She introduced him to the literary world and assisted in writing his speeches and books.

The Irita Van Doren Book Award was established in 1960 by the publisher of the Herald Tribune.

Despite the urging of many, she never penned her memoirs, referring to herself as "the nonwriting Van Doren".

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