Joseph Warren Beach

Joseph Warren Beach (1880-1957). Courtesy National Library of Australia.

Joseph Warren Beach (January 14, 1880 - August 13, 1957) was an American poet, novelist, academic, and literary critic.



outh and educationEdit

Beach was born in Gloverdale, New York, the son of

Beach had been drawn to the University of Minnesota from Gloversville, New York, by the school's president, his father-in-law, Cyrus Northrop. For teachers there, "he wrote his first poetry and his brilliant undergraduate papers," wrote historian James Gray. Following Beach's graduation in 1900 he became an instructor in rhetoric. Then for many years he moved back and forth between Minnesota and Harvard University, alternating between periods of teaching and periods of working on his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees.

"Slender, intense, sensitive, this young teacher had the figure and face that are usually called poetic," Gray says. "When he read poetry aloud he swayed emotionally before his audience as though he felt the rhythms in his very muscle and nerves. But his early letters reveal, along with all of the eager enthusiasm of the esthete, a skill at dialectics which was presently to make him one of the most distinguished critics of his time."


After completing his M.A. and Ph.D. at Harvard, Beach returned to Minneapolis in 1907 and joined the Department of English at the University of Minnesota as Assistant Professor. He became an Associate Professor in 1917 and a full Professor in 1924. He chaired the English Department from 1939 until his retirement in 1948.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

He married Elisabeth Northrop (1871-1917) in 1907). The couple had 2 sons, Northrop and Warren. His 2nd wife was Dagmar Doneghy, who married him in 1918. His brief life in The National Cyclopædia of American Biography (47 , 1965: 596-97) tells that outdoor camping was an important part of his life. His letters and papers are in the Library of Congress.


He is the author of American Fiction, 1920-1940 and The Twentieth Century Novel: Studies in technique. He was an expert on Henry James (The Method of Henry James, 1918), George Meredith, Thomas Hardy; and 19th-century literature in general.

Beach had a special love for poetry. The Making of the Auden Canon (1957) was a study of how W.H. Auden revised his earlier-published poems as his view of the world changed. He also wrote The Concept of Nature in Nineteenth-Century English Poetry (1936).

Beach also published 3 volumes of his own poetry, Sonnets of the Head and Heart (1903), Beginning With Plato (1944), and Involuntary Witness (1950).




  • Body's Breviary. Pasadena, CA: 1930.
  • Glass Mountain. Philadelphia: Macrae Smith, 1930.


  • The Comic Spirit in George Meredith: An interpretation. New York & London: Longmans Green, 1911.
  • The Method of Henry James. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1918.
  • The Technique of Thomas Hardy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1922.
  • Meek Americans, and other European trifles. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1925.
  • The Outlook for American Prose. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1926.
  • The Twentieth Century Novel: Studies in technique. New York & London: Century, 1932.
  • The Concept of Nature in Nineteenth-Century English poetry. New York: Macmillan, 1936.
  • American fiction, 1920-1940: John Dos Passos, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe, Erskine Caldwell, James T. Farrell, John P. Marquand [and] John Steinbeck. New York: Macmillan, 1941.
  • A Romantic View of Poetry: Being lectures given at the Johns Hopkins Iniversity on the percy Turnbull Memorial Foundation in Nov. 1941. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1944; Gloucester, MA: Smith, 1963.
  • English Literature of the 19th and the Early 20th Centuries: 1798 to the First World War. New York: Collier, 1950; London & New York: Collier, 1962.
  • Obsessive Images: Symbolism in poetry of the 1930's and 1940's (edited by William Van O'Connor). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1960.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[2]

See alsoEdit


  • Life in The National Cyclopædia of American Biography (47 , 1965: 596-97)
  • William Van O'Connor (editor), Forms of Modern Fiction: Essays Collected in Honor of Joseph Warren Beach (1959)


  1. Notes on Life and Works, Beach, Joseph Warren (1880-1957), Representative Poetry Online, University of Toronto. Web, May 23, 2015.
  2. Search results = au: Joseph Warren Beach, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Apr. 25, 2014.

External linksEdit


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