Stephen Vincent Benét
|Stephen Vincent Benét|
Stephen Vincent Benét, Yale College B.A., 1919
July 22, 1898|
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||March 13, 1943
New York City, U.S.
|Genres||Poetry, short story, novel|
Stephen Vincent Benét (July 22, 1898 – March 13, 1943) was an American author, poet, short story writer, and novelist. Benét is best known for his book-length narrative poem of the American Civil War, John Brown's Body (1928), for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1929, and for two short stories, "The Devil and Daniel Webster" (1936) and "By the Waters of Babylon" (1937). In 2009, The Library of America selected Benét’s story “The King of Cats” (1937) for inclusion in its two-century retrospective of American Fantastic Tales, edited by Peter Straub.
Life and career 
Early life 
Benét was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to James Walker Benét, a colonel in the United States Army, and his wife. His grandfather and namesake was a Minorcan descendant born in St. Augustine, Florida, who led the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps, 1874–1891, with the rank of brigadier general; he was a graduate of the United States Military Academy and served in the American Civil War. The younger Benét's paternal uncle, Laurence Vincent Benét, a graduate of Yale, was an ensign in the United States Navy and later manufactured the French-Hotchkiss machine gun. 
At about age ten, Benét was sent to the Hitchcock Military Academy. He graduated from The Albany Academy in Albany, New York and Yale University, where he was "the power behind the Yale Lit", according to Thornton Wilder, a fellow member of the Elizabethan Club. Benét published his first book at age 17. He was awarded an M.A. in English upon submission of his third volume of poetry in lieu of a thesis. Benét was also a part-time contributor for the early Time magazine.
Man of letters 
|“||They came here, they toiled here, they suffered many pains, they lived here, they died here, they left singing names||”|
Benét helped solidify the place of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition and the Yale University Press during his decade-long judgeship of the competition. Benét published the first volumes of James Agee, Muriel Rukeyser, Jeremy Ingalls, and Margaret Walker. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1931.
Benét's fantasy short story about a devil, The Devil and Daniel Webster (1936) won an O. Henry Award. He furnished the material for Scratch, a one-act opera by Douglas Moore. The story was filmed in 1941 and shown originally under the title All That Money Can Buy. Benét also wrote a sequel, Daniel Webster and the Sea Serpent, in which the man Daniel Webster encounters the Leviathan of biblical legend.
Death and legacy 
Benét died of a heart attack in New York City, on March 13, 1943, at the age of 44 and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Stonington, Connecticut, where he had owned the historic Amos Palmer House. He was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 1944 for Western Star, an unfinished narrative poem on the settling of the United States.
The title of Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a history of Native Americans in the American West in the late nineteenth century, is taken from the final phrase of Benét's poem "American Names". The full quotation, "I shall not be there/I shall rise and pass/Bury my heart at Wounded Knee," appears at the beginning of Brown's book. Although Benet's poem is not about the plight of native Americans, Wounded Knee, (a village on a reservation in South Dakota) was the location of last major confrontation between the U.S. Army and American Indians. The event is known formally as the Wounded Knee Massacre, as more than 150, largely unarmed, Sioux men, women, and children were killed that day.
Benét fathered three children: Thomas, Stephanie, and Rachel. His brother, William Rose Benét, was a poet, anthologist and critic who is largely remembered for his desk reference Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia (1948). His sister Laura Benét was also an author.
Selected works 
- Five Men and Pompey, 1915
- The Drug-Shop, or, Endymion in Edmonstoun (Yale University Prize Poem), 1917
- Young Adventure, 1918 (full text)
- Heavens and Earth, 1920
- The Beginnings of Wisdom, 1921
- Young People's Pride, 1922
- Jean Huguenot, 1923
- The Ballad of William Sycamore, 1923
- King David, 1923
- Nerves, 1924 (with John Farrar)
- That Awful Mrs. Eaton, 1924 (with John Farrar)
- Tiger Joy, 1925
- The Mountain Whippoorwill: How Hill-Billy Jim Won the Great Fiddler's Prize, 1925 (full text)
- Spanish Bayonet, 1926
- John Brown's Body, 1928
- The Barefoot Saint, 1929
- The Litter of Rose Leaves, 1930
- Abraham Lincoln, 1930 (screenplay with Gerrit Lloyd)
- Ballads and Poems, 1915–1930, 1931
- A Book of Americans, 1933 (with Rosemary Carr Benét)
- James Shore's Daughter, 1934
- The Burning City, 1936 (includes 'Litany for Dictatorships')
- The Magic of Poetry and the Poet's Art, 1936
- By the Waters of Babylon, 1937
- The Headless Horseman, 1937
- Thirteen O'Clock, 1937
- Johnny Pye and the Fool Killer, 1938
- Tales Before Midnight, 1939
- The Ballad of the Duke's Mercy, 1939
- Nightmare at Noon, 1940
- Elementals, 1940–41 (broadcast)
- Freedom's Hard-Bought Thing, 1941 (broadcast)
- Listen to the People, 1941
- A Summons to the Free, 1941
- Cheers for Miss Bishop, 1941 (screenplay with Adelaide Heilbron, Sheridan Gibney)
- They Burned the Books, 1942
- Selected Works, 1942 (2 vols.)
- Short Stories, 1942
- Nightmare at Noon, 1942 (in The Treasury Star Parade, ed. by William A. Bacher)
- A Child is Born, 1942 (broadcast)
- They Burned the Books, 1942 (broadcast)
These works were published posthumously:
- Western Star, 1943 (unfinished)
- Twenty Five Short Stories, 1943
- America, 1944
- O'Halloran's Luck and Other Short Stories, 1944
- We Stand United, 1945 (radio scripts)
- The Bishop's Beggar, 1946
- The Last Circle, 1946
- Selected Stories, 1947
- From the Earth to the Moon, 1958
- The New Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol. 12, Micropaedia, 15th edition, Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. c. 1989
- Bradley, George. The Yale Younger Poets Anthology, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, pp. 23–53
- "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
- Weicksel, Amanda (2001). "Stephen Vincent Benét". Literary and Cultural Heritage Map of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Center for the Book, Penn State University. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
- Stephen Vincent Benét, Nathan Wallach (1917). The Drug-shop, Or Endymion in Edmonstoun. Yale University Press.
- Bleiler, Everett (1948). The Checklist of Fantastic Literature. Chicago: Shasta Publishers. pp. 46–47.
- Fenton, Charles A. (1958 repr. 1978). Stephen Vincent Benét: The Life and Times of an American Man of Letters, 1898–1943. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-20200-1.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Stephen Vincent Benét|
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
- Works by Stephen Vincent Benét at Project Gutenberg
- ebooks of works by Stephen Vincent Benét at Project Gutenberg Australia
- Borough of Fountain Hill Official Web Site
- Works by Stephen Vincent Benét (public domain in Canada)
- Stephen Vincent Benét at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Stephen Vincent Benét at Find a Grave