Wallace Stevens Additional Biography


Wallace Stevens’s life has been called a “double life,” split between the seemingly antithetical professions of poet and insurance lawyer. However, as critic Frank Kermode notes, “Stevens did not find that he must choose between the careers of insurance lawyer and poet. The fork in the road where he took the wrong turning is a critic’s invention.” Rather, Stevens became one of America’s most respected poets. He was an accomplished stylist whose power over language and intense imagination wrought exhilarating and complex poems.{$S[A]Parasol, Peter;Stevens, Wallace}

Stevens was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1879, of Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry, a fact important in some of his verse, notably “Dutch Graves in Bucks County.” However, Stevens does not approach autobiographical writing; his symbols are impersonal, and comprehension of his work does not depend closely on a knowledge of his life.

Stevens attended Harvard University from 1897 until 1900, and there his first poems appeared in The Harvard Advocate. He left Harvard before graduating due to a shortage of family finances and planned to go to Paris to write. Instead, Stevens took a job as reporter on the New York Herald Tribune. Later, he entered New York Law School. He received his law degree in 1903 and was admitted to the New York Bar Association, practicing law in New York City from 1904 until 1916. During this period, Stevens continued to write poetry and made friends among Greenwich Village writers, including William Carlos Williams (1883-1963), Marianne Moore (1887-1972), and Harriet Monroe (1860-1936). According to Williams, who, like Stevens, devoted himself to two professions, Stevens was always...

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Wallace Stevens was born on October 2, 1879, in Reading, Pennsylvania, to Garrett (a lawyer) and Margaretha (a schoolteacher) Stevens....

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Wallace Stevens was born on October 2, 1879, in Reading, Pennsylvania, where he grew up in a typical upper-middle-class family in the...

(The entire section is 660 words.)