Before World War II, Ronald Verlin Cassill studied art, planning to become a professional painter, and won some regional art contests in Iowa in 1939 and 1940. He began to write fiction after serving as an army officer in the South Pacific during the war. The beginning of his professional writing career was marked by his winning second place in the Atlantic Monthly “Firsts” contest of 1947. Several of his stories have been included in The Best American Short Stories and in Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards. He earned B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Iowa, studied at the Sorbonne, and received a Fulbright fellowship, Rockefeller grant, and John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation grant. He has taught at Iowa, the New School for Social Research, Purdue, Columbia, Harvard, and Brown.
Although he wrote less in his later years, his long career as writer, editor, and professor of literature and fiction writing has assured his voice an echoing resonance across the landscape of twentieth century literature since World War II. He settled in Providence, Rhode Island, where he remained professor emeritus at Brown University, until his death in 2002.