Marchette Gaylord Chute (1909-1994) was an American writer. As a biographer, she specialized in English literary figures; she published biographies of Geoffrey Chaucer, Ben Jonson, and William Shakespeare. As a children's writer, she specialized in tales written during the periods described in her biographies, and in rhyming verses for children.
Marchette Chute was born in Wayzata, Minnesota to an upper-middle-class family. Her father William Chute was a realtor, and her mother Edith Mary Pickburn Chute had been a hospital nurse. She attended Central High School in Minneapolis, and was then a student at the University of Minnesota. Over a seven-year period from 1946 through 1953, Chute published the trade biographies that established her reputation. Geoffrey Chaucer of England was published in 1946, Shakespeare of London in 1950, and Ben Jonson of Westminster in 1953. In each case, Chute attempted to write as an independent scholar with the ability to revisit and develop holistic portraits of her subjects based upon limited documentary evidence placed in a context of overall English social history.
Honors and legacy
Chute was seen by her colleagues as a significant writer of her day. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was elected president of the PEN American Center. She published a demicentennial history of the Center, PEN American Center: A History of the First 50 Years, in 1972. She also published a dual biography of George Herbert and Robert Herrick, Two Gentlemen, in 1959. She died in a Montclair, New Jersey nursing home on May 6, 1994. Her personal papers are now part of the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection within the University of Southern Mississippi.
Published works (partial list)
- An Introduction to Shakespeare
- Around and About
- Ben Jonson of Westminster
- Geoffrey Chaucer of England
- Green Tree Democracy
- Innocent Wayfaring
- Jesus of Israel
- Rhymes about Us
- Search for God
- Shakespeare of London
- Stories from Shakespeare
- The End of the Search
- The First Liberty: A History of the Right to Vote in America 1619-1850
- The Wonderful Winter
- Two Gentle Men: The Lives of George Herbert and Robert Herrick
- Two Gentlemen of Verona
- "Marchette Chute, 84, Biographer of Shakespeare and Chaucer". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- "Marchette Chute Papers". University of Southern Mississippi. Retrieved January 30, 2015.