Winfield Townley Scott Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

“A Dirty Hand”: The Literary Notebooks of Winfield Townley Scott (1969) is a collection of the notes Winfield Townley Scott made about people (including other poets), places, and events. His Exiles and Fabrications (1961) is a collection of essays on Newport, Rhode Island, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, as well as commentary on Edwin Arlington Robinson, Amy Lowell, Booth Tarkington, Mark Twain, and Emily Dickinson. Alpha Omega (1971) is Scott’s account of his Newport boyhood, to which some late poems were added. He also wrote several critical essays as well as countless book reviews for the Providence Journal, the New York Herald-Tribune, and The New York Times. He edited a collection of Emily Dickinson’s poems, Letter to the World (1966), and Oliver La Farge’s The Man with the Calabash Pipe (1966). Scott also compiled the Poems of Robert Herrick (1967).


(Poets and Poetry in America)

George Elliott, who edited the anthology Fifteen Modern American Poets (1956), maintained that Winfield Townley Scott was as good or better than any of the other poets in that collection. Although Scott never won the top prizes for poetry, his work did receive recognition. As a Brown University undergraduate, he was a cowinner of the Glascock Prize for poetry. In 1937, he won the Guarantors Prize, which is awarded annually for the best poem or poems published in Poetry the preceding year. In 1940, he was one of two recipients of the Shelley Memorial Award for poetry. His Collected Poems, 1937-1962 was nominated for the National Book Award the year that Macmillan published it. Five years later, Poetry awarded him the Harriet Monroe Memorial Award. Scott also received honorary doctorates from Rhode Island College and the University of New Mexico.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Donaldson, Scott. Poet in America: Winfield Townley Scott. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1972. A critical biography, essentially a biography “illuminated” with Scott’s poetry but also a critique of the culture within which the American artist exists. Donaldson says Scott was cruelly criticized by people who did not appreciate his work and who disapproved of his willingness to be supported by his wife. Scott, who shared his critics’ views even though he knew they should not matter, began to doubt himself and died the “emasculated victim” of his doubts and fears. The book contains a helpful bibliography of Scott’s writings, including a section on the recordings Scott made of his own poetry.

Frohock, W. M. “Win Scott on College.” Southwest Review 58 (1973): 105-114. Frohock, who was a year behind Scott at Brown University, discusses Scott’s “so-called failure” in terms of his experiences at Brown, where, except for Saunders Redding, an African American writer who isolated himself from his classmates, he was the only undergraduate “poet.” Frohock believes that the English faculty “led him to expect more of himself than was good for him or than would have been good for anyone.” As a result, when Scott began to feel that he was falling short of expectations, “there was really no place for him to hide.”


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