Mark Van Doren was born on June 13, 1894. He was the son of a doctor and grew up in Illinois.
In 1940, Van Doren’s Collected Poems 1922–1938 (Henry Holt and Company, 1939) won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. He published numerous other notable books of poetry and nonfiction, including The Last Days of Lincoln (Hill & Wang, 1959); Selected Poems (Holt, 1954); Nathaniel Hawthorne (W. Sloane Associates, 1949); The Noble Voice (Henry Holt and Company, 1945); Shakespeare (Henry Holt and Company, 1939); American and British Literature since 1890 (Appleton-Century, 1939); Jonathan Gentry (A. & C. Boni, 1931); Spring Thunder (Thomas Seltzer, 1924); and The Poetry of John Dryden (Harcourt, Brace and Howe, 1920).
Van Doren was a poet, novelist, and critic, and worked at The Nation from 1924–28 and from 1935–38. He was a member of the Society for the Prevention of World War III and a celebrated teacher at Columbia University.
Van Doren died in Torrington, Connecticut, on December 10, 1972.