Berryman, John

Berryman, John

(bĕr`ēmən), 1914–72, American poet and critic, b. McAlester, Okla., as John Allyn Smith, Jr., grad. Columbia, 1936. His father committed suicide when he was 12; he took his stepfather's name when his mother subsequently remarried. From 1955 until his death he was on the faculty of the Univ. of Minnesota. Although he had published several volumes of poetry and a highly regarded biography of Stephen CraneCrane, Stephen,
1871–1900, American novelist, poet, and short-story writer, b. Newark, N.J. Often designated the first modern American writer, Crane is ranked among the authors who introduced realism into American literature.
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 (1950), his literary reputation was not established until the appearance of Homage to Mistress Bradstreet (1956), a long dialogue in verse between Berryman and the ghost of Anne BradstreetBradstreet, Anne (Dudley),
c.1612–1672, early American poet, b. Northampton, England, considered the first significant woman author in the American colonies. She came to Massachusetts in the Winthrop Puritan group in 1630 with her father, Thomas Dudley, and her husband,
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. The volumes 77 Dream Songs (1964; Pulitzer Prize) and His Toy, His Dream, His Rest (1968) can be considered a two-part novel in verse in which the main character is a middle-aged teacher and lover named Henry, who is the voice of an anguished and trivial age. The Dream Songs (1969) brings together both books. Berryman committed suicide in 1972. Delusions, Etc. (1972), a volume of poems, and Recovery (1973), a novel, were published posthumously; in both the poet examines himself and his life—as it slips away—in intimate and harrowing detail. Berryman's other volumes of poetry include Poems (1942), The Dispossessed (1948), Berryman's Sonnets (1967), and Love and Fame (1971).


See selected poems ed. by K. Young (2004); study by J. M. Linebarger (1974).

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Berryman, John (McAlpin)

(1914–72) poet, writer, teacher; born in McAlester, Okla. He studied at Columbia University (B.A. 1936), at Cambridge, England (B.A. 1938), and taught at various institutions, mainly the University of Minnesota (1954–72). He is known for his almost agonizing self-revealing poetry, as in Dream Songs (collected; 1969). He committed suicide in Minneapolis, Minn., and his novel, Recovery (1973), appeared posthumously.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
Berryman, John. "One Answer to a Question." Shenandoah 17 (Autumn 1965): 67-76.
Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Berryman, John Cheever and Raymond Carver.
Berryman, John. "Eleven Addresses to the Lord." Collected Poems 1937-1971.