Malcolm Cowley

Malcolm Cowley

[kou-lee, koo-]
Cowley, Malcolm, 1898-1989, American critic and poet, b. Belsano, Pa., grad. Harvard, 1920. He lived abroad in the 1920s and knew many writers of the "lost generation," about whom he wrote in Exile's Return (1934) and Second Flowering (1973). For many years he wrote a book-review column for the New Republic. His works include The Blue Juniata (1927) and A Dry Season (1942), poems; The Literary Situation (1954), a critical analysis; and Many Windowed Houses: Collected Essays on Writers and Writing (1970).
Malcolm Cowley (August 28, 1898 Belsano, Cambria County, PennsylvaniaMarch 27, 1989) was an American novelist, poet, literary critic, and journalist.

Cowley grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where his father William was a homeopathic doctor. He graduated from Peabody High School where his friend Kenneth Burke was also a student. He obtained a B.A. from Harvard University in 1920.

He interrupted his undergraduate studies to join the American Field Service in France during World War I. From the Western Front he reported on the war for The Pittsburgh Gazette (today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

Upon returning to the USA, Cowley married the artist Peggy Baird; they were divorced in 1931. His second wife was Muriel Maurer. Together they had one son, Robert William Cowley, who is an editor and military historian.

As part of the great crowd of creative genius that migrated to Paris, France, and congregated in the Montparnasse, Cowley returned to live in France for three years, where he worked with Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others. For this reason, he is often referred to as being part of America's Lost Generation. His most famous work is his autobiographical Exile's Return, published in 1934, which chronicled the general movement of the Lost Generation out of the United States.

From 1929 through 1944, Cowley was an assistant editor of The New Republic. During this period, he became a radical Marxist and began writing about politics. As with many of his generation, Cowley came under scrutiny by J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI.

As an editorial consultant to Viking Press, he pushed for the publication of Jack Kerouac's On the Road. In 1946 Cowley's introduction to Viking's The Portable Faulkner, a collection which he also edited, is generally considered a turning point in Faulkner's reputation in the United States, at a time when many of his early works were in danger of going out of print. Cowley's introduction to Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, written in the early 1960s, is said to have had a similar effect on Anderson's reputation.


  • Jay, Paul, editor, The Selected Correspondence of Kenneth Burke and Malcolm Cowley, 1915-1981, New York: Viking, 1988, ISBN 0-670-81336-2

External links

Search another word or see Malcolm Cowleyon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature