Family Tree Tuesday – Stephen Benét
Stephen Benét was an American author, poet, short story writer, and novelist. He is best known for his narrative poem of the American Civil War, John Brown’s Body (1928), for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1929, and for two short stories, “The Devil and Daniel Webster” (1937) and “By the Waters of Babylon”.
Benét was born on July 22, 1898 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to James Walker Benét, a colonel in the United States Army, and his wife Frances Benét (Rose). He graduated from The Albany Academy and Yale University. Benét published his first book at age 17. He was awarded an M.A. in English upon submission of his third volume of poetry in lieu of a thesis. Benét died in New York City on March 13, 1943, at the age of 44 from a heart attack. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Stonington, Connecticut. He was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 1944 for Western Star, an unfinished narrative poem on the settling of the United States.
His grandfather Stephen Vincent Benét was a Minorcan descendant born in St. Augustine, Florida, who led the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps during 1874-1891, with the rank of brigadier general; he was a graduate of the United States Military Academy and served in the American Civil War.
The younger Stephen Benét’s paternal uncle, Laurence Vincent Benét was a graduate of Yale, an ensign in the United States Navy and later manufactured the French-Hotchkiss machine gun.
Stephen Benét’s older brother William Benét was also an American poet, writer, and editor. He was born in Brooklyn, New York on February 2, 1886. He also won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1942 for his book of autobiograhical verse, The Dust Which Is God (1941). He is the author of The Reader’s Encyclopedia, the standard American guide to world literature. William’s son, James Walker Benét is the author of two suspense novels and a guidebook to the San Francisco Bay Area.
William Benét’s ex-wife Elinor Wylie was an American poet and novelist popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Her sister-in-law was Tallulah Bankhead who was married to Elinor’s brother Morton McMichael Hoyt.
Check out Stephen Benét’s family tree and see how you’re related!