William Rose Benét’s long tenure as an editor at the Saturday Review of Literature over the first half of the magazine’s sixty-year existence helped make the publication one of the more influential periodicals in providing literary commentary and book reviews. While extolling the virtues of prominent nineteenth century writers, the magazine also helped introduce such twentieth century authors as Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, Sinclair Lewis, William Faulkner, Robert Benchley, and Ring Lardner.
Benét also earned a reputation as a competent—if not always inspired—craftsman of traditional rhyming poetry. Benét’s longevity as a poet and his technical abilities in composing verse were eventually recognized toward the end of his life. He received the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 1942 for The Dust Which Is God, giving the Benét family a pair of Pulitzer winners: his brother Stephen Vincent Benét won the award twice for his epics John Brown’s Body (1928) and Western Star (1943). He served as chancellor for the Academy of American Poets from 1946 to 1950.