Charles Dickens

(b. Feb. 7, 1812, Portsmouth, Hampshire, Eng.-d. June 9, 1870, Gad’s Hill, near Chatham, Kent) Charles Dickens is generally considered the greatest British novelist of the Victorian period. His origins were middle class, if of a newfound and precarious respectability; one grandfather had been a domestic servant, and the other…

Continue reading

Thomas Sterns Eliot

(b. Sept. 26, 1888, St. Louis, Mo., U.S.-d. Jan. 4, 1965, London, Eng.) Thomas Sterns Eliot was an American-English poet, playwright, literary critic, and editor who was a leader of the Modernist movement in poetry in such works as The Waste Land (1922) and Four Quartets (1943). His experiments in…

Continue reading

William Butler Yeats

(b. June 13, 1865, Sandymount, Dublin, Ire.-d. Jan. 28, 1939, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France) The Irish poet, dramatist, and prose writer William Butler Yeats was one of the greatest English-language poets of the 20th century. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. In 1867, when Yeats was only two, his…

Continue reading

Anton Chekhov

(b. Jan. 29 [Jan. 17, Old Style], 1860, Taganrog, Russia-d. July 14/15 [July 1/2], 1904, Badenweiler, Ger.) Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a major Russian playwright and master of the modern short story. He is regarded as the outstanding representative of the late 19th-century Russian realist school. Chekhov, the son of…

Continue reading

Robert Frost

(b. March 26, 1874, San Francisco, Calif., U.S.-d. Jan. 29, 1963, Boston, Mass.) The American poet Robert Frost was much admired for his depictions of the rural life of New England, his command of American colloquial speech, and his realistic verse portraying ordinary people in everyday situations. Frost attended Dartmouth…

Continue reading

Pablo Neruda

(b. July 12, 1904, Parral, Chile-d. Sept. 23, 1973, Santiago) Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet, diplomat, and politician, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. He was perhaps the most important Latin American poet of the 20th century. Born Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, Neruda began to write poetry…

Continue reading

Ernest Hemingway

(b. July 21, 1899, Cicero [now in Oak Park], Ill., U.S.-d. July 2, 1961, Ketchum, Idaho) Ernest Hemingway, an American novelist and shortstory writer, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. He was noted both for the intense masculinity of his writing and for his adventurous and widely…

Continue reading

Richard Wright

(b. Sept. 4, 1908, near Natchez, Miss., U.S.-d. Nov. 28, 1960, Paris, France) The novelist and short-story writer Richard Wright was among the first black American writers to protest white treatment of blacks, notably in his novel Native Son (1940) and his autobiography, Black Boy (1945). He inaugurated the tradition…

Continue reading