WALLACE STEVENS was born October 2, 1879, a Libra. This was possilby coincidental, but, nevertheless, proves to be a powerful explanatory notion in his life. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, and died in Hartford, Connecticut on August 2, 1955.

School consisted of Harvard University and New York Law School, where he received his degree in 1903. He was admitted to the New York Bar in 1904, and began to practice in New York City. He was associated with the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company from 1916 until his death. He became vice president in 1934.

WALLACE STEVENS contributed to the Harvard Advocate while at university, but did not gain recognition until four of his poems were published in a special wartime issue of Poetry in 1914. They won a prize.

He also won a prize for Three Travelers Watch a Sunrise, a one-act play that was later produced at the Provincetown Playhouse, New York.


  • Harmonium (1923)
  • Ideas of Order (1936)
  • The Man with the Blue Guitar (1937)
  • Parts of a World (1942)
  • Transport to Summer (1947)
  • The Auroras of Autumn (1950)
  • The Necessary Angel (1951)--Essays on Reality and the Imagination
  • The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (1954)
  • Opus Posthumous (1957)
  • Letters of Wallace Stevens (1966)
  • The Whole Of Harmonium

Major awards:

  • The Bollingen Prize in Poetry of the Yale University Library (1949)
  • The National Book Award in Poetry for The Auroras of Autumn (1951)
  • The National Book Award for Poetry for The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (1955)
  • The Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (1955)

All artists face the decision Stevens seems to have finessed his entire life. In their late 'teens and early twenties, those with any artistic inclination or talent must decide how their lives are going to be. And they confront a dilemma: Are they going to pursue a career that will give them the living to support their art--and exhaust their energy on business? Or spend their lives on art--and not have enough to eat, let alone a place to live, and do their art?

George Orwell makes interesting observations on this very question in his novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying.

Wallace Stevens seems to have balanced this two necessities of his life by leading a curious double-existence. On one hand, he was a poet, and philosopher, of great accomplishment. On the other, he rose to become a senior executive of an insurance company.

It is reported that his home was a center of literary and artistic activity. But, it is also reported, the two aspects of his life never met. A precarious balance, possibly, but one worthy of the truly gifted Libra he was.

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