Ray Benedict West, Jr. was born July 30, 1908 in Logan, Utah the son of Ray B. West, Sr. and Mary Selina Morrell West. In his youth he attended the common schools of the area and graduated from Logan High School in 1926. In 1927 West was called by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to serve as a missionary in Germany where he proselyted from 1927 to 1930. After completing his missionary service, West returned to Logan, Utah and enrolled in the Utah State Agricultural College (now Utah State University). From the USAC he received a B.S. in English in 1933 and he then enrolled in the University of Utah, earning a M.A. in English by 1935. In 1937 West took a teaching job at the College of Southern Utah where he taught English for three years. In 1941 he transferred to Weber College, Utah and taught English there for two years and during the 1943-1944 year he taught at the University of Montana. During this period West had been working toward earning a Ph.D. in English from the State University of Iowa and in 1945 he was awarded a Ph.D.. West specialized in creative writing and Western literature.
After his graduation from the State University of Iowa, West taught English at the Utah State Agricultural College from 1945 to 1946, the University of Kansas from 1946 to 1949, the State University of Iowa from 1949 to 1959, and then at San Francisco State College from 1959 to 1973. During his career he also taught English as a visiting professor to numerous universities, some of which included University of Innsbruck, Austria, University of Ankara, Turkey, and Queens College, New York. West was the founder of The Western Review (also known as Intermountain Review, Rocky Mountain Reader, and Rocky Mountain Review) and served as its editor until from 1936 to 1959. He was also the author of many articles and a number of books. Some of his books include Rocky Mountain Stories (1941), The Art of Modern Fiction (1949), Essays in Modern Literary Criticism (1952), The Short Story in America (1952), Kingdom of the Saints (1957), and The Art of Writing Fiction (1967).
In 1974 West retired and returned to Logan, Utah where he lived for a short time until moving to Santaquin, Utah. West died on April 6, 1990 in Santaquin, Utah.