Robert Morss Lovett was born in Boston and educated at Harvard, he was appointed in 1893 instructor in English at the University of Chicago. His range of acquaintances included many of the most important writers and teachers of his time: Herbert Croly, William Vaughn Moody, Robert Herrick, Jane Addams, Charles W. Eliot, William R. Harper, John M. Manly, Bernard Berenson, and others. In 1919, Lovett became editor of Dial magazine, and in 1921 he was made an associate editor of The New Republic, a position he held for twenty years. In 1936 he retired from active teaching at the University of Chicago, but continued to give lectures and courses elsewhere, including several terms at the University of Puerto Rico.
Always vitally interested in social problems, Dr. Lovett's sympathies led him to be associated with many leftist and liberal organizations. During the 1930s and 1940s, his affiliations made him the center of heated controversies in the press and in Congress. His appointment in 1939 to the post of Secretary to the Government of the Virgin Islands began a four year period in this political office which ended with his resignation, after attack by the Dies Committee. He had succeeded his friend Robert Herrick as Secretary. These followed the celebrated case of The United States versus Lovett, in which he was able to collect back salary owed him by the government but for which certain Congressmen had tried to stop payment. He died in St. Joseph's Hospital in Chicago in 1956.