Picture of author.

Robert Penn Warren (1905–1989)

Author of All the King's Men

116+ Works 12,890 Members 170 Reviews 33 Favorited

About the Author

Robert Penn Warren, the first Poet Laureate of the United States, was an unusually versatile writer who tried his hand at almost every kind of literature. In all of these forms, he achieved recognition and distinction, but it is as a poet, critic, and novelist that he was most widely known. Writing show more almost always about his native South, Warren produced 10 novels and a collection of short stories, The Circus in the Attic and Other Stories (1948). By far the most successful of his novels is All the King's Men (1946), the story of a southern politician and demagogue named Willie Stark, which Warren based on the rise and fall of Huey Long. Warren was considered one of the most influential of the New Critics, whose influence on the teaching of literature in American schools and universities during the late 1940s and 1950s could scarcely be overestimated. Because All the King's Men seemed to be the very epitome of what a good work of literature should be in New Critical terms---a complicated but highly readable narrative filled with irony and ambiguity---the novel came to be used widely in courses on modern fiction. It won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Southern Authors Award in 1947. Warren's other novels are disappointing by comparison. Following the success of All the King's Men, however, Warren seemed to turn to more loosely told stories about dramatic and romantic subjects, such as the interracial theme of Band of Angels (1955) or the natural catastrophes that serve as the crisis background for The Cave (1959) and Flood: A Romance of Our Time (1964). Wilderness: A Tale of the Civil War (1961) is an allegory of a man's spiritual quest for truth about himself and the world. Meet Me in the Green Glen (1971), the story of a tragic love affair, seemed to mark a return to the tighter structure and more complex artistry of Warren's earlier novels, but A Place to Come To (1977), his last novel, in which an elderly and renowned scholar who seems to owe much to Warren himself looks back on his family's past in an effort to find the meaning of his life, struck some reviewers as a confused and tired work. Sometime midway through his career as a novelist it is as if Warren stopped thinking of himself as a southern writer in the tradition of William Faulkner and turned instead to Thomas Wolfe for inspiration. Although in retrospect that switch must be regretted, no one can deny the immense influence of Robert Penn Warren on modern letters. Warren's poetry is intellectual, rich in powerful images, and has its roots in the pre-Civil War South. He continued to write impressive poetry almost until the time of his death. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Courtesy Wikipedia.


Works by Robert Penn Warren

All the King's Men (1946) 7,252 copies
Short Story Masterpieces (1954) — Editor — 674 copies
Understanding Poetry (1938) 363 copies
A Place to Come To (1977) 333 copies
Remember the Alamo! (1958) 277 copies
World Enough and Time (1950) 267 copies
Band of Angels (1955) 259 copies
Wilderness (1961) 168 copies
Flood (1960) 134 copies
The Legacy of the Civil War (1961) 131 copies
Night Rider (1939) 130 copies
Understanding Fiction (1943) 118 copies
The Cave (1959) 111 copies
Selected poems 1923-1975 (1976) 90 copies
An Approach to Literature (1939) 84 copies
At Heaven's Gate (1943) 82 copies
A Robert Penn Warren Reader (1987) 68 copies
Who Speaks for the Negro? (1965) 68 copies
Meet Me in the Green Glen (1971) 65 copies
Being Here: Poetry (1980) 61 copies
Rumor Verified: Poems (1981) 48 copies
New and Selected Essays (1989) 44 copies
Now and Then: Poems 1976-78 (1978) 39 copies
All the King's Men: A Play (1959) 38 copies
Randall Jarrell, 1914-1965 (1967) — Editor — 35 copies
60 Years of American Poetry (1996) 28 copies
Modern Rhetoric {unspecified} (1958) — Author & Editor — 28 copies
Selected Essays (1958) 25 copies
The Scope of Fiction (1960) — Author & Editor — 25 copies
Or Else - Poems 1968-74 (1974) 25 copies
Audubon, a vision (1969) 24 copies
Portrait Of A Father (1988) 19 copies
Modern Rhetoric {Third Edition} (1977) — Author & Editor — 19 copies
Modern Rhetoric {Fourth Edition} (1979) — Author & Editor — 18 copies
The Essential Melville (1987) 17 copies
The gods of Mount Olympus (1959) 13 copies
Modern Rhetoric {Shorter Third Edition} (1977) — Author & Editor — 12 copies
Promises: Poems 1954-1956 (1957) 12 copies
Modern Rhetoric {Shorter Edition} (1961) — Author & Editor — 12 copies
Stories from six authors (1960) — Contributor — 11 copies
A New Southern Harvest (1957) 10 copies
Modern Rhetoric {First Edition} (1949) — Author & Editor — 7 copies
Modern Rhetoric {Second Edition} (1958) — Author & Editor — 6 copies
La Grande Forêt (2017) 3 copies
Amantha (1959) 3 copies
Blackberry Winter (1946) 2 copies
2007 2 copies
BAND OF ANGELS (1955) 1 copy
Six poems 1 copy
Two Poems 1 copy
La caverne 1 copy

Associated Works

A Farewell to Arms (1929) — Introduction, some editions — 22,206 copies
The Sound and the Fury (1929) — Introduction, some editions — 17,120 copies
Nostromo (1904) — Introduction, some editions — 4,716 copies
The Best American Short Stories of the Century (2000) — Contributor — 1,549 copies
The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry (1990) — Contributor — 746 copies
The World of the Short Story: A 20th Century Collection (1986) — Contributor — 459 copies
A Pocket Book of Modern Verse (1954) — Contributor, some editions — 441 copies
Critical Theory Since Plato (1971) — Contributor, some editions — 397 copies
The Granta Book of the American Short Story (1992) — Contributor — 368 copies
Coleridge's Poetry and Prose [Norton Critical Edition] (2003) — Contributor — 197 copies
American Religious Poems: An Anthology (2006) — Contributor — 161 copies
A Comprehensive Anthology of American Poetry (1929) — Contributor — 128 copies
The Signet Classic Book of Southern Short Stories (1991) — Contributor — 122 copies
The Literature of the American South: A Norton Anthology (1997) — Contributor — 98 copies
Twentieth-Century American Poetry (1777) — Contributor — 96 copies
The Collected Stories of Caroline Gordon (1981) — Introduction, some editions — 80 copies
Baseball's Best Short Stories (1995) — Contributor — 79 copies
200 Years of Great American Short Stories (1975) — Contributor — 68 copies
All the King's Men [1949 film] (1949) — Novel — 67 copies
Who Owns America: A New Declaration of Independence (1970) — Contributor — 45 copies
A Quarto of Modern Literature (1935) — Contributor — 39 copies
Southern Dogs and Their People (2000) — Contributor — 39 copies
Partisan Review (1998) — Contributor, some editions — 33 copies
Birds in the Hand: Fiction and Poetry about Birds (2004) — Contributor — 32 copies
The Sun Also Rises / A Farewell to Arms / The Old Man and the Sea (1962) — Introduction, some editions — 32 copies
The Best American Short Stories 1972 (1972) — Contributor — 26 copies
The Best American Short Stories 1964 (1964) — Contributor — 24 copies
Selected Poems of Herman Melville (1991) — Editor — 23 copies
Praising It New: The Best of the New Criticism (2008) — Contributor — 23 copies
A Good Man: Fathers and Sons in Poetry and Prose (1993) — Contributor — 20 copies
A Portrait of Southern Writers: Photographs (2000) — Contributor — 13 copies
Writer to Writer: Readings on the Craft of Writing (1966) — Contributor — 8 copies
Men and Women: The Poetry of Love (1970) — Contributor — 8 copies
Various Temptations (1948) — Contributor — 7 copies
Perspectives on poetry (1968) — Contributor — 7 copies
Selected Poems (1963) — Editor, some editions — 5 copies
A Long Fourth and Other Stories (1948) — Introduction, some editions — 4 copies
Robert Penn Warren's Brother to Dragons: A Discussion (1983) — Contributor — 2 copies


1001 (150) 1001 books (154) 20th century (878) 20th century literature (173) American (799) American fiction (207) American literature (1,521) American South (162) anthology (656) classic (1,024) classic literature (165) classics (1,119) English literature (162) Faulkner (161) fiction (6,560) Folio Society (140) Hemingway (243) historical fiction (285) history (205) Italy (316) Library of America (134) literature (1,596) modernism (253) non-fiction (149) novel (1,281) own (209) owned (134) poetry (1,336) politics (373) read (500) Roman (139) romance (170) short stories (616) southern (285) southern literature (254) to-read (2,419) unread (367) USA (261) war (490) WWI (724)

Common Knowledge

Date of death
Burial location
Willis Cemetery, Stratton, Vermont, USA
Guthrie, Kentucky, USA
Place of death
Stratton, Vermont, USA
Places of residence
Guthrie, Kentucky, USA
Fairfield, Connecticut, USA
Stratton, Vermont, USA
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Vanderbilt University (BA | 1925)
University of California, Berkeley ( [1926])
Yale University (1928)
Oxford University ( [1930])
Citizens Military Training Corp, Fort Knox, Kentucky
Clarksville High School, Clarksville, Tennessee (show all 7)
Guthrie School
short-story writer
literary critic
editor (show all 8)
Clark, Eleanor (wife)
Warren, Rosanna (daughter)
Brooks, Cleanth (friend)
Lytle, Andrew (friend)
Taylor, Peter Hillsman (friend)
Erskine, Albert (friend) (show all 10)
Davidson, Donald (teacher)
Jarrell, Randall (student)
Mims, Edwin (teacher)
Dew, Robb Forman (goddaughter)
The Fugitives
The Agrarians
Fellowship of Southern Writers (charter member)
American Academy of Poets ( [1950])
American Academy of Poets ( [1972])
American Academy of Arts and Letters (1959) (show all 12)
American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1975)
American Philosophical Society (1952)
National Institute of Arts and Letters (1950)
Century Association (1958)
Modern Language Association
The Southern Review (co-founder ∙ editor-in-chief)
Awards and honors
Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (1944-1945)
Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (1986-1987)
Presidential Medal of Freedom (1980)
Bollingen Prize (1967)
Jefferson Lecture (1974)
Gold Medal for Poetry ( [1985]) (show all 27)
Emerson-Thoreau Medal (1975)
Distinguished Alumnus Award ( [1950])
National Arts Foundation Award (1968)
National Medal of Arts (1987)
National Medal of Literature (1970)
Founder's Medalist (1925)
Award for Distinction in Literature ( [1973])
Ten Best Teachers Award ( [1972])
Creative Arts Award ( [1984])
Shelley Memorial Award (1943)
MacArthur Prize (1981)
Wilma and Roswell Messing, Jr., Award ( [1977])
Phi Beta Kappa (1925)
Rhodes Scholar (1928-1930)
Guggenheim Fellowship
Warren-Brooks Award
Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction
Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities (Vanderbilt University)
English Committee of the Board of Overseers of Harvard College (1967-68)
U.S. Naval Academy (declined due to injury)
Only poet to have served twice as U.S. Poet Laureate
Short biography
Robert Penn Warren is the only person to have won Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry. He served twice as Poet Laureate of the United States.



This is literature of the finest sort, spoiled by a lack of editing. The book could have been half as long and twice as good.
One of the strengths of the book is its portrayal of minor characters and the squalor they inhabit. The jailer Munn Short, for example, tells a story which has no bearing on the novel but which lingers as a tour de force. Another strength is Warren's descriptions of landscape and nature, which are infused with his deep knowledge and appreciation. However - the book is somewhat spoiled by Warren's insistence on portraying Jeremiah Beaumont's inner thoughts, his prevarications, his tortured musings, his diary entries -- all in the name of showing Beaumont to be a man of ideas, and these ideas would prove to be incompatible with the world "made flesh". The last 150 pages were a real drag. In fact, I found myself searching to find a Reader's Digest Condensed version of the book, to no avail, but if ever a book could be made shorter (and better) this is the one. I still praise this book highly, but I was disappointed by all the telling, which overtook the showing. Show, don't tell.… (more)
downstreamer | 8 other reviews | Feb 16, 2024 |
This is a book from my bucket list.

It's always a bit mind-boggling to read a book from a hundred years ago and recognize that nothing has really changed except fashion. It happened when I read [b:Arrowsmith|11389|Arrowsmith|Sinclair Lewis|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1328006651l/11389._SY75_.jpg|1446230] and realized that nothing has changed in the world of pharmaceuticals and physicians. All the King's Men lays out the idea that power and money is central to politics, and corrupts all politicians, no matter humble and full of good will they are in the beginning. Human nature doesn't change one bit. It's incredibly depressing.… (more)
rabbit-stew | 127 other reviews | Dec 31, 2023 |
This is impressive, and it's clear why it won the Pulitzer for fiction. The prose flows beautifully, and the banter and schemes and relationships are captivating and infuriating
KallieGrace | 127 other reviews | Nov 29, 2023 |
650 pages of poetry. I'm sure it is the masterpiece it is said to be, but for me it was a real slog.
nogomu | 127 other reviews | Oct 19, 2023 |


AP Lit (1)


You May Also Like

Associated Authors

William Faulkner Contributor
James Joyce Contributor
Henry James Contributor
Joseph Conrad Contributor
Randall Jarrell Contributor
Graham Greene Contributor
John Updike Contributor
Conrad Aiken Contributor
J. D. McClatchy Contributor
Harold Bloom Foreword
John Collier Contributor
Frank O'Connor Contributor
Ring Lardner Contributor
Peter Taylor Contributor
Seán O'Faoláin Contributor
Jean Stafford Contributor
J. F. Powers Contributor
Elizabeth Taylor Contributor
A. E. Coppard Contributor
H.L. Davis Contributor
Irwin Shaw Contributor
Ernest Hemingway Contributor
John Steinbeck Contributor
Saki Contributor
Carson McCullers Contributor
Mary McCarthy Contributor
Sinclair Lewis Contributor
James Thurber Contributor
Elizabeth Parsons Contributor
Sherwood Anderson Contributor
John Cheever Contributor
D. H. Lawrence Contributor
Stephen Crane Contributor
Eudora Welty Contributor
J. D. Salinger Contributor
Nelson Algren Contributor
William Moyers Illustrator
John Burt Editor, Foreword
C. Vann Woodward Interviewer, Introduction
Robert Lowell Contributor
Robert Frost Contributor
John Crowe Ransom Contributor
Joseph Auslander Contributor
J. V. Cunningham Contributor
Debora Greger Contributor
Edward Snow Contributor
George Starbuck Contributor
Rosanna Warren Contributor
Henri Coulette Contributor
Robert Fagles Contributor
James Scully Contributor
William Arrowsmith Contributor
Irving Feldman Contributor
Ellen Rosefsky Cohen Abrams editor
Melissa Green Contributor
Jeffrey Harrison Contributor
Reg Saner Contributor
Norman Williams Contributor
Richard Eberhart Contributor
Mary Jo Salter Contributor
Rika Lesser Contributor
Edwin Markham Contributor
Edward Field Contributor
Stan Rice Contributor
Peter Gizzi Contributor
Mona Van Duyn Contributor
Eric Pankey Contributor
Horace Gregory Contributor
Garrett Hongo Contributor
John Balaban Contributor
Josephine Miles Contributor
Carolyn Forché Contributor
April Bernard Contributor
Cyrus Cassells Contributor
Robert Hayden Contributor
Jane Cooper Contributor
Audrey Wurdemann Contributor
William Meredith Contributor
Léonie Adams Contributor
William Logan Contributor
Susan Wood Contributor
Thomas Bolt Contributor
Leonard Bacon Contributor
Anthony Petrosky Contributor
Kenneth O. Hanson Contributor
Peter Hargitai Contributor
Robert Hillyer Contributor
Cynthia Zarin Contributor
Ai Contributor
Richard Lyons Contributor
Josephine Jacobsen Contributor
Leonora Speyer Contributor
Lauren Shakely Contributor
Karen Snow Contributor
Chris Llewellyn Contributor
Martin Greenberg Contributor
Martha Hollander Contributor
Elaine Terranova Contributor
Jan Richman Contributor
Ned O'Gorman Contributor
Adrien Stoutenburg Contributor
Peter Schmitt Contributor
Rolfe Humphries Contributor
J. Allyn Rosser Contributor
Ridgely Torrence Contributor
Percy MacKaye Contributor
Jane Shore Contributor
Allen Grossman Contributor
Greg Glazner Contributor
Léonie Adams Contributor
Peter Davidson Contributor
Christianne Balk Contributor
Judith Baumel Contributor
Michael Blumenthal Contributor
John Hall Wheelock Contributor
John Neihardt Contributor
Michael Cuddihy Contributor
George Bradley Contributor
Jared Carter Contributor
David Clewell Contributor
Louis Coxe Contributor
Jon Davis Contributor
Barton Sutter Contributor
E.A. Robinson Contributor
Alison Deming Contributor
Robert Mezey Contributor
Mark Van Doren Contributor
John DuVal Contributor
Phillip Schultz Contributor
Peter Everwine Contributor
Constance Carrier Contributor
Robert Francis Contributor
Laura Gilpin Contributor
Andrew Schelling Contributor
Frederick Seidel Contributor
Cornelius Eady Contributor
Witter Bynner Contributor
James Schuyler Contributor
Marianne Moore Contributor
Philip Levine Contributor
Charles Wright Contributor
Richard Hugo Contributor
James Merrill Contributor
Rita Dove Contributor
William Harmon Contributor
Archibald MacLeish Contributor
Robinson Jeffers Contributor
Stanley Kunitz Contributor
Marilyn Hacker Contributor
James Wright Contributor
John Hollander Contributor
Maxine Kumin Contributor
Katha Pollitt Contributor
Anthony Hecht Contributor
Muriel Rukeyser Contributor
Gerald Stern Contributor
Minnie Bruce Pratt Contributor
Larry Levis Contributor
Richard Howard Contributor
Howard Nemerov Contributor
Amy Clampitt Contributor
Daniel Berrigan Contributor
Brad Leithauser Contributor
Edward Hirsch Contributor
Galway Kinnell Contributor
Marvin Bell Contributor
Robert Fitzgerald Contributor
Sylvia Plath Contributor
E. E. Cummings Contributor
W. H. Auden Contributor
Ezra Pound Contributor
Diane Ackerman Contributor
John Ashbery Contributor
Carl Sandburg Contributor
Elizabeth Bishop Contributor
Donald Hall Contributor
Adrienne Rich Contributor
Sharon Olds Contributor
Stephen Dobyns Contributor
Li-Young Lee Contributor
Charles Simic Contributor
Richmond Lattimore Contributor
Edgar Lee Masters Contributor
W. S. Merwin Contributor
John Berryman Contributor
Kenneth Rexroth Contributor
Jorie Graham Contributor
Mark Strand Contributor
X. J. Kennedy Contributor
Padraic Colum Contributor
Naomi Shihab Nye Contributor
Jesse Stuart Contributor
Cleopathra Mathis Contributor
Timothy Steele Contributor
Alfred Corn Contributor
Barry Moser Illustrator
John Yau Contributor
Lisel Mueller Contributor
Vicki Hearne Contributor
David Wagoner Contributor
Donald Justice Contributor
Louise Bogan Contributor
May Swenson Contributor
Max Eastman Contributor
Babette Deutsch Contributor
W. D. Snodgrass Contributor
David Bottoms Contributor
Rodney Jones Contributor
Rosmarie Waldrop Contributor
Daniel Hoffman Contributor
David Ferry Contributor
Robert Nathan Contributor
Allen Tate Contributor
Mark Anderson Contributor
Alberto Rios Contributor
Howard Moss Contributor
Marie Howe Contributor
Carolyn Kizer Contributor
Dudley Fitts Contributor
Margaret Gibson Contributor
Frederick Douglass Contributor
John Brown Contributor
Chief Cobb Contributor
Phillis Wheatley Contributor
Chief Seattle Contributor
Chief Joseph Contributor
Chief Cochise Contributor
Ten Bears Contributor
Speckled Snake Contributor
Blackhawk Contributor
Logan the Orator Contributor
Walt Whitman Contributor
Eleanor Clark Interviewed
Marshall Walker Interviewer
Peter Stitt Interviewer
Richard B. Sale Interviewer
William Kennedy Interviewer
Benjamin DeMott Interviewer
Bill Moyers Interviewer
Eugene Walter Interviewer
Flannery O'Connor Interviewed
Ruth Fisher Interviewer
Ralph Ellison Interviewer
Edwin Newman Interviewer
Dick Cavett Interviewer
John Baker Interviewer
Harvey Breit Interviewer
Frank Gado Interviewer
Shirley Ann Grau Contributor
Truman Capote Contributor
William March Contributor
Louis Bromfield Contributor
George Woodbury Contributor
Theodore Roethke Contributor
Juhani Koskinen Translator
Herman Melville Contributor
George Core Foreword
Leo Dillon Illustrator
Diane Dillon Illustrator
David W. Blight Introduction
Mike Fink Contributor
Mary Rowlandson Contributor
Seba Smith Contributor
Edgar Allan Poe Contributor
Jonathan Edwards Contributor
Benjamin Franklin Contributor
Cotton Mather Contributor
Robert E. Lee Contributor
Stephen Mitchell Contributor
William Byrd Contributor
Thomas Paine Contributor
Stephen Foster Contributor
Thomas Jefferson Contributor
David Walker Contributor
Timothy Dwight Contributor
George Fitzhugh Contributor
Davy Crockett Contributor
Ebenezer Cook Contributor
William Bradford Contributor
Edward Taylor Contributor
John Winthrop Contributor
John C. Calhoun Contributor
Anne Bradstreet Contributor
Roger Williams Contributor
Joel Barlow Contributor
William Bartram Contributor
Francis Scott Key Contributor
Thomas Hooker Contributor
Samuel Sewall Contributor
Philip Freneau Contributor
Meriwether Lewis Contributor
Abraham Lincoln Contributor
Stephen Yenser Contributor
Washinton Irving Contributor
Francis Parkman Contributor
George Bancroft Contributor
Thomas Shepard Contributor
John Trumbull Contributor
Richard Kenney Contributor
John James Audubon Contributor
Philip Booth Contributor
Julia Ward Howe Contributor
John P. Kennedy Contributor
John Woolman Contributor


Also by

Charts & Graphs