Van Wyck Brooks (b. Plainfield, New Jersey, February 16, 1886; d. Bridgewater, Connecticut, May 2, 1963) was an American literary critic, biographer, and historian. Biography [edit ]
Brooks was educated at
Harvard University and graduated in 1908. As a student there, he published his first book: a collection of poetry called Verses by Two Undergraduates, co-written with his friend John Hall Wheelock. [1 ]
The masterpiece of his literary career was a series of studies entitled
Makers and Finders, which chronicled the development of American literature during the long 19th century. Brooks' reputation rested on the dexterity with which he embroidered elaborate biographical detail into brilliant anecdotal prose. For The Flowering of New England (1936), he won the second National Book Award for Non-Fiction from the American Book Sellers Association [2 ] and the 1937 [3 ] Pulitzer Prize in history.
He was a long-time resident of
Bridgewater, Connecticut, which built a town library wing in his name. Although a decade-long fund-raising effort seemed to fail and was abandoned in 1972, a miserly hermit in Los Angeles, Charles E. Piggott, with no connection to Bridgewater surprised the town by leaving money for the library in his will. With $210,000 raised, the library addition went up in 1980. [4 ]
Among his works, the book
The Ordeal of Mark Twain, published in 1920, analyzes the literary progression of Samuel L. Clemens and attributes shortcomings to Clemens' mother and wife. In 1925 he published a translation from French of the 1920 biography of Henry Thoreau by Leon Bazalgette, entitled Henry Thoreau, Bachelor of Nature.
In 1944, Brooks was on the
cover of . Time Magazine [5 ] Bibliography [edit ] 1905: Verses by Two Undergraduates (with John Hall Wheelock) 1908: The Wine of the Puritans: A Study of Present-Day America 1913: The Malady of the Ideal: Senancour, Maurice de Guérin, and Amiel 1914: John Addington Symonds: A Biographical Study 1915: The World of H.G. Wells 1915: America's Coming of Age 1920: The Ordeal of Mark Twain 1925: The Pilgrimage of Henry James 1925: Henry Thoreau, Bachelor of Nature (by Leon Bazalgette, translated by Van Wyck Brooks) 1932: The Life of Emerson 1934: Three Essays on America 1936: The Flowering of New England, 1815-1865 (Makers and Finders) 1940: New England: Indian Summer, 1865-1914 (Makers and Finders) 1941: Opinions of Oliver Allston 1941: On Literature Today 1944: The World of (Makers and Finders) Washington Irving 1947: The Times of (Makers and Finders) Melville and Whitman 1948: A Chilmark Miscellany 1952: The Confident Years: 1885-1915 (Makers and Finders) 1952: Makers and Finders: A History of the Writer in America, 1800-1915 1953: The Writer in America 1954: Scenes and Portraits: Memoirs of Childhood and Youth (An Autobiography) 1955: John Sloan: A Painter's Life 1956: Helen Keller: Sketch for a Portrait 1957: Days of the Phoenix: The Nineteen-Twenties I Remember (An Autobiography) 1958: The Dream of Arcadia: American Writers and Artists in Italy, 1760-1915 1958: From a Writer's Notebook 1959: Howells: His Life and World 1961: From the Shadow of the Mountain: My Post-Meridian Years (An Autobiography) 1962: Fenollosa and His Circle: With Other Essays in Biography 1965: An Autobiography Awards and honors [edit ] Prizes [edit ] 1937: Pulitzer Prize in history and National Book Award for 1936 nonfiction [3 ] 1938: Goldmedaille des Limited Editions Club 1944: Carey Thomas Award for The World of Washington Irving 1946: Goldmedal of National Institute of Arts and Letters ( American Academy of Arts and Letters) 1953: Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal 1954: Huntington Hartford Foundation Award 1957: Secondary Education Board Award for Helen Keller: Sketch for a Portrait Honorary degrees [edit ] Doctor of Letters: Doctor of Humane Letters: References [edit ] ^ Sullivan, Roderick B. (February 2001). "Biography of John Hall Wheelock, Poet", Biographies of Notable Wheelocks. Retrieved 3 July 2012. ^ "Books and Authors", The New York Times, 1936-04-12, p. BR12. ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2007). ^ a b "5 Honors Awarded on the Year's Books: ...", The New York Times, 1937-02-26, p. 23. ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2007). ^ Burnham Public Library Web site, Library History Web page, accessed May 4, 2009 ^ Time.com