William Rose Benét

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William Rose Benét
Born William Rose Benét
(1886-02-02)February 2, 1886
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died May 4, 1950(1950-05-04) (aged 64)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Education Yale University
The Albany Academy
Occupation Writer, Editor
Known for Founder and editor of the Saturday Review of Literature (1924-1950)
The Dust Which Is God (1941)
The Reader's Encyclopedia (1948)
Spouse(s) Teresa France Thomson (1912-1919, her death)
Elinor Wylie (1923-1928, her death)
Lora Baxter (1932-1937)
Marjorie Flack (1941-1950)
Children James Walker Benét
Frances Rosemary Benét
Kathleen Anne Benét
Parent(s) Col. James Walker Benét
Frances (Rose) Benét
Relatives Stephen Vincent Benét (brother)
Laura Benét (sister)
Brigadier General Stephen Vincent Benét (grandfather)
Awards Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1941)

William Rose Benét (February 2, 1886 – May 4, 1950) was an American poet, writer, and editor. He was the older brother of Stephen Vincent Benét.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Col. James Walker Benét and his wife née Frances Neill Rose, and grandson of Brigadier General Stephen Vincent Benét. He was educated The Albany Academy in Albany, NY and at Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University, graduating with a PhB in 1907. At Yale, he edited[1] and contributed light verse to campus humor magazine The Yale Record.[2] He began the Saturday Review of Literature in 1924 and continued to edit and write for it until his death.

Benét married four times: First, on 3 September 1912, he married Teresa France Thomson, with whom he had three children (James Walker Benét, Frances Rosemary Benét, and Kathleen Anne Benét). Teresa died in 1919. Benét's second wife whom he married on 5 October 1923, was poet Elinor Wylie. She died in 1928. Benét's third wife, whom he married on 15 March 1932, was Lora Baxter. They divorced in 1937. Benét's fourth wife, and widow, was children's writer Marjorie Flack. They were married from June 22, 1941 until his death in 1950.

In 1942, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his book of autobiographical verse, The Dust Which Is God (1941).

He is also the author of The Reader's Encyclopedia, a standard American guide to world literature.

His son, James Walker Benét (1914-2012) fought in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, and was the author of two suspense novels and a guidebook to the San Francisco Bay Area.[3]

Today he is perhaps best known as the author of "The Skater of Ghost Lake," a poem frequently assigned in American schools for its use of onomatopoeia and rhythm as well as its tone of dark mystery.[citation needed]


  • Merchants of Cathay (1913)
  • The Great White Wall: A Poem (1916)
  • Perpetual Light: A Memorial (1919)
  • Moons of Grandeur: A Book of Poems (1920)
  • Dry Points: Studies in Black and White (1921)
  • The Flying King of Kurio: A Story of Children (1926)
  • Wild Goslings: A Selection of Fugitive Pieces (1927)
  • Starry Harness (1933)
  • Pocket University: Guide to Daily Reading (1934)
  • Golden Fleece: A Collection of Poems and Ballads Old and New (1935)
  • Great Poems of the English Language (1936)
  • Mad Blake: A Poem (1937)
  • Day of Deliverance: A Book of Poems in Wartime (1940)
  • The Dust Which is God: A Novel in Verse (1941)
  • The Stairway of Surprise: Poems (1947)
  • Timothy's Angels, Verse (1947)
  • The Spirit of the Scene (1951)
  • The First Person Singular (1971)
  • The Prose and Poetry of Elinor Wylie (1974)


  1. ^ "William Rose Benét". Obituary Record of Graduates of the Undergraduate Schools Deceased during the Year 1949-1950. New Haven: Yale University. January 1, 1951. p. 170.
  2. ^ Bronson, Francis W., Thomas Caldecott Chubb, and Cyril Hume, eds. (1922) The Yale Record Book of Verse: 1872-1922. New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 104-106.
  3. ^ James Benet obituary, San Francisco Chronicle (December 22, 2012)
  • Bulletin of Yale University, Obituary Record of Graduate of the Undergraduate Schools Deceased During the Year 1949-1950, series 47, number 109, 1 January 1951, page 170-1.

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