Mark Van Doren Biography


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Mark Albert Van Doren, the son of physician Charles Lucius Van Doren and Dora Ann Butz, was born on his parents’ farm near Hope, Illinois, and lived there for the first six years of his life. Then Van Doren’s parents moved with him and his four brothers to the university town of Urbana, Illinois, where Van Doren’s father had planned to retire but instead continued to practice medicine.

Van Doren attended the University of Illinois at Urbana, as his well-known older brother Carl had done. Both men were strongly influenced by Stuart Sherman, an English professor, and Mark was also taught by Leonard Bloomfield, the linguist, then a young instructor of German. Van Doren received his bachelor’s degree in 1914 and entered the university’s graduate program in English. A course with Sherman in nineteenth century prose writers introduced Van Doren to the writings of Thoreau, the subject of his master’s thesis, which was published in 1916. He received his master’s degree in 1915.

Mark Van Doren again followed his brother Carl’s footsteps, going in 1915 to study at Columbia University, where Carl had studied and where, at the time, he was teaching English. Carl helped to guide his brother’s doctoral studies and even suggested the topic of Mark’s dissertation, Dryden’s poetry. Van Doren’s academic career was interrupted in 1917 by World War I. His Army career, during which he never left the United States, consisted mainly of paperwork and ended with the armistice in 1918.

At the beginning of 1919, Van...

(The entire section is 634 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Mark Albert Van Doren (van DOHR-uhn) was a distinguished American poet, critic, fiction writer, editor, and educator. He was born in Hope, Illinois, the son of Dr. Charles Lucius Van Doren (a medical doctor) and Dora Ann Butz. Mark Van Doren remained on his parents’ farm until he was six years old. Subsequently he, his parents, and his four brothers relocated to Urbana, Illinois.{$S[A]Doren, Mark Van;Van Doren, Mark}

Following the path of his older brother Carl, Mark Van Doren studied at the University of Illinois at Urbana. After he completed his bachelor’s degree in 1914, he enrolled in the master’s English program. Van Doren took a course in nineteenth century prose writers under the tutelage of Professor Stuart Sherman, who introduced Van Doren to Henry David Thoreau’s writings. Van Doren chose the writings of Thoreau as the subject for his master’s thesis. In 1915 he was awarded his master’s degree.

Van Doren continued his studies at Columbia University in New York, where his brother Carl had studied previously and had become an English literature professor. Carl was very influential in Van Doren’s academic career. Carl suggested Van Doren’s dissertation topic: John Dryden’s poetry. Van Doren received his Ph.D. in 1920.

During the fall of 1920, Van Doren became an English professor at Columbia. During his tenure, he taught several future literary critics, such as Lionel Trilling, Maxwell Geismar, and John Gassner, as well as publishers Donald Dike and Robert Giroux and novelist Jack Kerouac. Demonstrating his passion for teaching, Van Doren remained at Columbia until he retired in 1959. He came out of retirement in 1963 to accept a position at Harvard University as a visiting professor. He continued to write until his death in 1972.


(The entire section is 735 words.)