- MacLeish, Archibald
- (1892-1982)Born to a wealthy family in Glencoe, Illinois, poet Archibald MacLeish was educated at Hotchkiss Preparatory School. He graduated from Yale University in 1915 and entered Harvard Law School. His first poetry was published as Tower of Ivory in 1917. His studies were interrupted by the war, and he served in the artillery, seeing action on the Marne. After World War I, MacLeish returned to Harvard and graduated in 1919. After working as a lawyer in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1923 he left for France and did not return to the United States until 1929. He published a number of poems, including “Ars Poetica” (1926) and the collections Pot of Earth (1925) and The Hamlet of A. MacLeish (1928). From 1929 to 1938, MacLeish wrote for Henry R. Luce’s Fortune magazine. He wrote a number of successful plays, including Panic (1935), Fall of the City (1937), and Air Raid (1938), and produced a collection of photographs, Land of the Free (1938). His major achievements were the long poems, “Conquistador” (1932), for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1933, and his defense of democracy in “America Was Promises” (1939).A strong supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, MacLeish was appointed to head the Library of Congress in 1939. He held the position for five years, and while also writing speeches for Roosevelt, he became head of the Office of Facts and Figures in 1941 and then assistant director of the Office of War Information from 1942 to 1943. In 1945, MacLeish was a delegate to the first meetings of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.After the war, MacLeish returned to poetry with Act Five and Other Poems (1948). He became professor of rhetoric at Harvard in 1949, a position he held until 1962, and in 1952 he won his second Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Collected Poems, 1917-1952. He became president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1953. His play, J. B., won a third Pulitzer Prize in 1955. He continued to write poetry until his death, but he is remembered primarily as a writer of the 1930s.See also Literature and theater.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.