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Sewall, Richard B(enson) 1908-2003

SEWALL, Richard B(enson) 1908-2003

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born February 11, 1908, in Albany, NY; died April 16, 2003, in Newton, MA. Educator and author. Sewall was a former Yale University professor who is best remembered as the author of an important biography of nineteenth-century poet Emily Dickinson. After completing his undergraduate degree at Williams College in 1929, Sewall received his Ph.D. in 1933 from Yale. He then taught English for a year at Clark University before joining the faculty at Yale, where he would remain for the rest of his academic career, retiring as professor emeritus in 1976. Throughout his career, Sewall was more interested in teaching than in publishing. Consequently, his book output was not too extensive. In addition to editing three books and writing a teacher's manual, he was the author of The Vision of Tragedy (1959) and The Lyman Letters: New Light on Emily Dickinson and Her Family (1965). A scholar of Dickinson, his most influential book is the two-volume biography The Life of Emily Dickinson (1974). This work, which won the National Book Award for biography in 1975, was the result of twenty years of research and helped change people's conceptions of the poet's personality. In addition to his National Book Award, other honors bestowed upon Sewall include a Poetry Society of America award and a Yale University teaching award named in his honor.



Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 111: American Literary Biographers, Second Series, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1991.


Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2003, p. B10.

New York Times, April 21, 2003, p. A23.

Washington Post, April 21, 2003, p. B5.

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