R. W. B. Lewis


1917 – 2002


Who was R. W. B. Lewis?

Richard Warrington Baldwin Lewis was an American literary scholar and critic. He gained a wider reputation when he won a 1976 Pulitzer Prize for biography, the first National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction, and a Bancroft Prize for his biography of Edith Wharton. The New York Times called the book "a beautifully wrought, rounded portrait of the whole woman, including the part of her that remained in shade during her life ..." and said the "expansive, elegant biography ... can stand as literature, if nothing else. ... "

He was the Niel Gray Professor of English and American Studies at Yale University, where he taught from 1959 until his retirement in 1988. From 1954 to 1959 he taught at Rutgers–Newark. In 1988 Lewis received a Litt.D. from Bates College. A member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Lewis received its Gold Medal for Biography in 2000.

Lewis is generally considered one of the founders of the academic field of American Studies, and was regarded as one of the finest Americanists of his generation. His interests ranged from criticism of American and European writers, to biography and even artistic criticism.

Lewis' career as critic involved him in the lives of many influential American and European thinkers and writers. Lewis received his doctoral degree from the University of Chicago, where he studied under Norman Maclean, author of A River Runs Through It and Other Stories. He and his wife and sometime co-author, Nancy, later became close friends with the Southern writer Robert Penn Warren.

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Nov 1, 1917
Also known as
  • Richard Warrington Baldwin Lewis
  • R.W.B. Lewis
  • White American
  • United States of America
  • Harvard University
  • University of Chicago
  • Yale University
    (1959 - 1988)
Jun 13, 2002

on July 23, 2013


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