Author: Stephen Vincent Benet

Born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Stephen Vincent Benèt (1898–1943) was a prolific poet who authored nearly a dozen books over the course of his career. Despite a bout of scarlet fever at the age of three that permanently affected his eyesight and overall health, Benèt loved to read and write. The poetry he wrote as a young teenager quickly caught the attention of others. By 1915, he had already published his first poetry collection, Five Men and Pompey. Benèt attended Yale University, where he excelled in his studies and became editor of the student literary magazine. He continued to write poetry after leaving Yale, with two of his works—John Brown’s Body (1928) and Western Star (published posthumously in 1943)—winning Pulitzer Prizes. He also wrote short stories, the best known of which include “The Devil and Daniel Webster” (1936), “By the Waters of Babylon,” (1937), and “The King of Cats” (1937). In 1943, at the age of 44, he suffered a heart attack while in New York City and died. 

American Names

Stephen Vincent Benet

“American Names” is Stephen Vincent Benèt’s celebration of American place-names. While reading his work, consider the importance of names to the American cultural identity.