Leonard Bacon

Leonard Bacon, a poet, translator, critic, and professor, was born in 1887 in Solvay, New York. He came from a family of Congregationalist ministers, including the clergymen relatives for which he was named: his great-grandfather Reverend Leonard Bacon, a leader of the colonization movement in New Haven, and his grandfather, Leonard Woolsey Bacon. The younger Bacon studied at St. George’s School in Middletown, Rhode Island, then at Yale University, an institution to which his family was deeply connected. Five of his relatives served as members of the faculty. 

Bacon was a prolific poet who started publishing work in the Saturday Review of Literature under the pseudonym “Autolycus.” His numerous volumes of poetry include Day of Fire (Oxford University Press, 1943); Sunderland Capture and Other Poems (Harper & Brothers, 1940), which won the 1941 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; Bullinger Bound and Other Poems (Harper & Brothers, 1938); The Goose on the Capitol (Harper & Brothers, 1936), a narrative poem about contemporary politics; Dream and Action (Harper & Brothers, 1934), a narrative poem about the life of Arthur Rimbaud; and Ulug Beg: An Epic Poem, Comic in Intention, in VII Cantos (Knopf, 1923). 

Bacon was also the author of the autobiographical work Semi-Centennial: Some of the Life and Part of the Opinions of Leonard Bacon (Harper & Brothers, 1939), as well as several works in translation, including The Lusiads of Luis de Camões (Hispanic Society of America, 1950).

From 1910 to 1923, Bacon taught English at the University of California, Berkeley. In the midst of his tenure, he served in the Air Corps during the First World War. He left Berkeley to dedicate himself to writing. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1943 and served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. 

Bacon died in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, on January 1, 1954.