Shortly after Robert Penn
Warren's death on 15 September 1989, Victor Strandberg (Duke
University) suggested to Allen Shepherd (University of Vermont), James Justus (Indiana
University), and James Grimshaw (Texas A&M
University-Commerce) that an authors society ought to be formed to honor
Warrens life and work. By 1990 dues had been set at $5/year, the first Robert Penn
Warren Circle Newsletter was out, the organization was incorporated in Kentucky with the
assistance of Joe Millichap
(Western Kentucky University), and the Circle sponsored
panels at the American Literature
Association May conference and the Modern Language
Association December meeting.
The following year, 1991, saw the first
Robert Penn Warren Circle meeting in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in conjunction with the Western Kentucky Universitys Center for Robert
Penn Warren Studies annual symposium in April. The updated members roster listed about
150 names, officers and a board were elected, and by-laws written. Besides its annual
meetings, the Robert Penn Warren Circle continued to sponsor panels at the South Central
MLA, the Northeast MLA, and South Atlantic MLA regional conferences as well as at the
Louisiana State University Robert Penn Warren Legacy Conference (1995). In 1996 its annual
meeting was held in conjunction with the Herman Melville Society meeting at North Adams
State University (Mass.). In 1997 with the generous support of the Warren Estate, the
Circle introduced the Eleanor Clark Fellowship for graduate students presenting papers at
the annual meeting.
The presidents of the Robert Penn Warren
Circle include: 1990-91, James Justus (Indiana University); 1991-93, James A. Grimshaw, Jr. (Texas A&M University-Commerce);
1993-95, William Bedford Clark (Texas A&M University);
1995-96, Randolph Runyon (Miami University of Ohio); 1996-97,
Mark Miller (North Adams State University); 1997-98, Charlotte Beck (Maryville College
[Tenn.]); 1998-99, Mary Louise Weaks (Rockford College [Ill.]); 1999-2000, Lucy Ferriss (Hamilton College [N.Y.]}; and 2000-01, John Burt (Brandeis University).
The Robert Penn Warren Circle maintains close
affiliations with the Center for Robert Penn Warren Studies and with the Robert Penn Warren Birthplace Museum in Guthrie, Ky. The
Robert Penn Warren Circle was founded as a national organization devoted to the
publication, dissemination, discussion, and interpretation of scholarship and research
concerning the works of the nations first Poet Laureate, Robert Penn Warren. Its
membership, international in representation, is open to any one who is interested in the
works of Robert Penn Warren. Honorary members of the Circle include the late Cleanth
Brooks, the late Eleanor Clark, Tommie Warren Frey, R. W. B. Lewis, Gabriel Warren, and
Rosanna Warren. The Circle Newsletter provides notices of recent publications on Robert
Penn Warren, upcoming conferences related to Robert Penn Warren, and notes and queries
regarding Warrens work and related literary concerns.
After ten successful years, the Circle looks
forward to continued growth and sharing the stimulating ideas prompted by the works of
Robert Penn Warren.
Note-Many thanks to James
A. Grimshaw, Jr. for providing this history for the developers of this web site. For more
on James A. Grimshaw click here.