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Robert Penn Warren Robert Penn Warren born in Guthrie Kentucky in 1905 was one of the twentieth centurys most eminent American writers He was a distinguished novelist and poet literary critic essayist short story writer and coeditor of numerous textbooks He also a founding editor of The Southern Review a journal of literary criticism and political thought The primary influences on Robert Warrens career as a poet were probably his Kentucky boyhood and his relationships with his father and his maternal grandfather As a boy Warren spent many hours on his grandfathers farm absorbing stories of the Civil War and the local tobacco wars between growers and wholesalers the subject of his first novel Night Riders His grandfather Thomas Gabriel Penn had been a calvary officer in the Civil War and was well-read in both military history and poetry which he sometimes recited for Robert Roberts father was a banker who had once had aspirations to become a lawyer and a poet Because of economic troubles and his responsibility for a family of half-brothers and sisters when his father died Robert Franklin Warren forsook his literary ambitions and devoted himself to more lucrative businesses Robert Warren did not always have ambitions to become a writer in fact one of his earlier dreams was to become an adventurer on the high seas This fantasy might have indeed come about for his father intended to get him an appointment to Annapolis had it not been for a childhood accident in which he lost sight in one of his eyes Warren was an outstanding student but there were also many books at home and he savored reading His father at one time aspired to be a poet His grandfather Penn with whom he spent much time when he was young was an exceptional storyteller and greatly influenced young Red But both of these men whom he loved had in some sense failed to
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