John Peale Bishop Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

The literary reputation that John Peale Bishop retains is connected almost solely to his work as a poet, but he also was involved in journalism as an editor for Vanity Fair (1922), and he wrote for that magazine in the 1920’s. He produced a volume of short stories, Many Thousands Gone, in 1931 and a novel, Act of Darkness, in 1935.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

John Peale Bishop was a member of the literary establishment of New York in the early 1920’s but spent most of the decade living in Europe. He never won a major prize for his work, but in 1931, his short story “Many Thousands Gone” won the Scribner’s Magazine annual short-story prize. He was respected as a critic, and in 1940, he worked as the poetry reviewer for the periodical The Nation.

In 1943, Bishop was honored by the appointment as resident fellow at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., but ill health forced him to resign; he died soon after.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Arrowsmith, William. “An Artist’s Estate.” Hudson Review 2 (1949): 118-127. A short account of the Bishop poetry and its relation to early twentieth century literary movements.

Bier, Jesse. A Critical Biography of John Peale Bishop. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms, 1957. This thesis for Princeton University is one of the rare biographical works on Bishop.

Bratcher, James T. “’Chickimee Craney Crow’: A Game as Explanation of an Obscure Poem by John Peale Bishop.” Notes and Queries 55, no. 4 (December, 2008): 481-484. The author uses chickimee craney crow, a game played in the South in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, to explain the poem “A Charm.”

Frank, Joseph. “The Achievement of John Peale Bishop.” Minnesota Review 2 (1962): 325-344. Bishop often used mythological themes in his poetry; Frank spends considerable time on that aspect of the work but also examines the later poetry with considerable sensitivity.

Hyman, Stanly Edgar. “Notes on the Organic Unity of John Peale Bishop.” Accent 4 (1949): 102-113. A comment on the complexity of some of the poetry.

Spindler, Elizabeth Carroll. John Peale Bishop: A Biography. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 1980. Includes bibliographical references, index.

Tate, Allen. “A Note on Bishop’s Poetry.” Southern Review 1 (1935): 357-364. Tate, a good poet and distinguished critic, was Bishop’s closet literary confidant and a personal friend; his judgment of the Bishop work is probably the best available.

Tate, Allen, and John Peale Bishop. The Republic of Letters in America: The Correspondence of John Peale Bishop and Allen Tate. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1981. The sparsity of criticism of Bishop’s work can, in part, be alleviated by his long personal and critical correspondence with fellow poet Allen Tate. They discuss the problem of making art in the United States.

White, Robert Lee. John Peale Bishop. 1966. Reprint. Detroit: Gale Group, 1983. A widely accessible, full-length study of the poet. It is sensible and thorough, dealing with his life and his full range of literary endeavors. A good source for student study.