Robert Penn Warren

Early Life

Robert Penn Warren is one of the celebrated American poets and literary critics. He was born on the 24th of April in 1905, in Guthrie, Kentucky. His father, Robert Warren was a proprietor and banker, while his mother, Anna Penn, was a school teacher. His parents played a pivotal role during his early years. His mother used to help him in reading and writing and his father also assisted in increasing his learning abilities.


Robert started his formal education at the age of fifteen, in 1911, from Guthrie School. Later, in 1920, he joined Clarksville High School, where he did well in his studies until an unfortunate incident happened in 1921 and stole the wonders of his life. He suffered an injury to his left eye. Upon recovering, he joined Vanderbilt University and completed his degree in 1925. Later, he did a Master’s from the University of California. Besides these degrees, he received various honorary degrees from universities including Honorary D.Litt. degrees from various colleges and universities.

Awards and Honors

The credit of bringing a variety to the world of literature goes to Robert Penn Warren. It is due to his intensive writing approach that he not only won millions of hearts across the globe but also gained various prizes and honors. He won two Pulitzers for both poetry and fiction. His other notable achievements include the Caroline Sinkler Prize, Poet of the Month Award, Shelley Memorial Award, National Book Award for Promises, including various others, and Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Personal Life

Warren married twice. First, to Emma Brescia, but the couple failed to develop a strong love relation and parted ways in 1951. The second to Eleanor Clark. They had two children named Rosanna Phelps Warren and Gabriel Penn Warren born in the years 1953 and 1955, respectively.


After lighting up the world with his unique ideas and emotions, this literary genius suffered various complications including prostate cancer. He died at the age of eighty-four on the 15th of September in 1989 in Stratton, Vermont.

Some Important Facts about Him

  1. He is widely known for his bestselling novel, All the King’s Men, which was adapted for screen productions in 2006.
  2. He won Pulitzer Prize twice. Once for a novel and then for a collection of poetry.

His Career

He started expressing his ideas on paper at a very young age and gained immense popularity on account of his literary ideas. His first Pome “Prophecy” was published at the age of twenty-one, which helped him publish his later books. His first novel, Night Rider, was published in 1939 followed by his widely appreciated novel, All the King’s Men that made an appearance in 1946. His other novels include World Enough and Time, At Heaven’s Gate, Band of Angels, and The Cave. His notable volumes of poetry include Promises: Poems, 1954–1956, You, Emperors, and Others (1960), and several others.

His Style

Robert Warren left a lasting impression on world literature. What makes his writings sound different from the other writers and poets is the question that primarily leads the readers to understand the reason for his rising popularity. He used his unique style in his writings to tell the story, using various literary devices. His writing style is mainly descriptive. He used imagery to describe his characters to make the readers under the situations in which he places them. Other literary devices that he used in his works include similes, metaphors, situational irony, and flashbacks. Some of the significant themes in his writing include man and the natural world, the significance of history, and violence.

Some Important Works of Robert Penn Warren

  • Best Novels: Some of his important novels include Night Rider, All the King’s Men, World Enough and Time, Band of Angels, The Cave, and A Place to Come to.
  • Other Works: Besides writing novels, he produced various other literary wonders such as; “Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce”, Eleven Poems on the Same Theme, Who Speaks for the Negro?, Jefferson Davis Gets His Citizenship Back and The Poets Laureate Anthology

Robert Penn Warren’s Impact on Future Literature

Robert stands unique among the writers of the 20th century for having attained excellence in a broad range of genres such as novels, plays, poems, essays, innovative textbooks, and biographies. His wide range of works touched the readers globally and illuminated his centrality to American culture. He detailed his ideas in his writings so well that writers vie to follow his styles and ideas now.

Important Quotes

  1. “The end of man is knowledge, but there is one thing he can’t know. He can’t know whether knowledge will save him or kill him. He will be killed, all right, but he can’t know whether he is killed because of the knowledge which he has got or because of the knowledge which he hasn’t got and which if he had it, would save him.”(All the King’s Men)
  2. “Politics is a matter of choices, and a man doesn’t set up the choices himself. And there is always a price to make a choice. You know that. You’ve made a choice, and you know how much it cost you. There is always a price.” (All the King’s Men)
  3. “And what we students of history always learn is that the human being is a very complicated contraption and that they are not good or bad but are good and bad and the good comes out of the bad and the bad out of the good, and the devil take the hindmost.” (All the King’s Men)