Irita Bradford Van Doren

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Irita Van Doren
Irita Van Doren 1947.jpg
Irita Van Doren in 1947
Irita Bradford[1]

(1891-03-16)March 16, 1891[1]
DiedDecember 18, 1966(1966-12-18) (aged 75)[1]
Alma materFlorida State College for Women,[1]
Columbia University
Occupationliterary editor[1]
EmployerThe Nation,
New York Herald Tribune[1]
Spouse(s)Carl Van Doren
Partner(s)Wendell Willkie
  • John Taylor Bradford[1] (father)
  • Ida Henley née Brooks[1] (mother)

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. She also hosted the popular Book and Author Luncheons, sponsored by the American Booksellers Association and the Herald Tribune, from 1938 to 1963. Radio broadcasts of the luncheons on WNYC began in 1948.

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".


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sicherman, Barbara (1980), "Van Doren, Irita Bradford", Notable American Women, Harvard University Press, pp. 704–705, ISBN 9780674627338


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