John Hall Wheelock Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Although John Hall Wheelock employed a prose section in his first volume of poetry, he remained largely devoted to poetic expression throughout his writing life. His What Is Poetry? (1963) was also dedicated to his preferred art.

Wheelock engaged in important work as editor, however. Of significance was Editor to Author: The Letters of Maxwell E. Perkins, to which he supplied an introduction. He also edited the influential anthology series Poets of Today, issued in eight volumes from 1954 to 1961. Among the previously unpublished poets he introduced in these volumes were May Swenson, James Dickey, and Louis Simpson.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

John Hall Wheelock’s collected Poems, 1911-1936, won the 1937 Golden Rose Award of the New England Poetry Society. Nearly twenty years later, Poems Old and New was honored with the Ridgely Torrence Memorial Award in 1956 and the Borestone Mountain Poetry Award in 1957. In 1962, Wheelock received the Bollingen Prize for Poetry and, three years later, the Signet Society Medal of Harvard University, for distinguished achievement in the arts. In 1974, the Poetry Society of America presented him with its Frost Medal.

Wheelock’s status in American letters was reflected by the number of positions in the arts he held beginning in the 1940’s, including the vice presidencies of the Poetry Society of America and the National Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1947, he became a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, a position he held until he was named an honorary fellow in 1971. Wheelock was also member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1948-1978), and honorary consultant in American letters of the Library of Congress.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Berg, A. Scott. Max Perkins: Editor of Genius. New York: Riverhead Trade, 1997. A striking portrait of Wheelock’s colleague and friend that describes the professional world in which the two were working and their relation with some of the most important early to mid-twentieth century American writers.

Brooks, Van Wyck. Days of the Phoenix: The Nineteen-Twenties I Remember. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1957. Brooks recalls a turbulent decade in his life, during which his friend Wheelock played an important role in confronting severe mental difficulties.

Wheelock, John Hall. “Literary Sketches.” Paris Review 163 (Fall, 2002): 220-237. An illuminating series of sketches of literary personalities and celebrities Wheelock had known, including Sara Teasdale, Vachel Lindsay, Robert Frost, and Marianne Moore. Includes photographs.

Wheelock, John Hall, with Matthew Joseph Bruccoli, and Judith S. Baughman, eds. The Last Romantic: A Poet Among Publishers—The Oral Autobiography of John Hall Wheelock. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2002. This account, drawn from dictated memoirs, covers the poet and editor’s full life and explores the world of publishing in detail.