Van Wyck Brooks (Van Wyck Brooks)

Van Wyck Brooks

Author and Critic. Van Wyck Brooks received a Pulitzer Prize for his literary history “The Flowering of New England.” He was the son of Charles Brooks, a New York stock broker and Sarah Ames Brooks lived in Plainfield, New Jersey.  He graduated from Harvard in 1908 after completing the four year course of studies in three years. During his years at Harvard, Mr. Brooks jointly published a collection of poetry called Verses by Two Undergraduates, with his friend, John H. Wheelock.  After his graduation from Harvard,  Mr. Brooks resided in Europe for several years. In 1909, while living in Sussex, England, he published  “Wine of the Puritans”, in which he claimed that America’s cultural shortcomings were due to its early Puritan heritage. He then taught for a period at Stanford University and wrote for several magazines. He eventually returned to New York and spent time working for a magazine “World’s Work”.  Mr. Brooks went on to author an extensive number of biographies of American writers including titles such as “The Pilgrimage of Henry James”; “The World of Washington Irving”; “The World of H.G. Wells” and “The Life of Emerson”. Mr. Brooks returned to his earlier theme of religion versus culture in his work on Mark Twain, where he attempted to show that Twain’s natural genius was stifled by his Calvinist upbringing. In 1925 he published a translation from French of the 1920 biography of Henry Thoreau by Leon Bazalgette, entitled Henry Thoreau, Bachelor of Nature. Mr. Brooks was often criticized by others for glorifying the literary past. His response was that his critics were simply lacking in sentiment. His most well known work,  “The Flowering of New England” was Volume One of a five volume series, “Makers and Finders: A History of the Writer in America, 1800-1915”. He also wrote “Days of the Phoenix” which was an autobiographical account of his four year struggle with “chronic melancholia” and his hospitalization between 1926 and 1931. Mr. Brooks received the 1936 American Book Sellers Association’s National Book award for Non-Fiction. This was followed by the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for “The Flowering of New England”. His wife, Eleanor Stimson, died in 1946 after 35 years of marriage.  He married his second wife, Gladys Rice, in 1948.  Mr. Brooks died from cancer at  his Bridgewater home at the age of 77. He was survived by his second wife, and his two sons, Oliver and Charles Van Wyck Brooks. Among the many accolades that Mr. Brooks acquired during his life time, were a Time Magazine cover story on October 2, 1944, the Carey Thomas Award for The World of Washington Irving in 1944 and Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal in 1953. He also had his portrait painted by John Butler Yeats. Following his death, the Town of Bridgewater constructed a wing of the library in his honor, but the funding ran out in 1972. However, the project was completed in 1980 through the generous bequest of a California man, Charles E. Piggott. His family’s home at 564 West Eight Street in Plainfield, New Jersey was built by his maternal Grandfather Ames. In 1982, the neighborhood was designated as the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District due to the numerous excellent examples of architecture and its association with Mr. Brooks. (bio by: Taquoshi)  Family links:  Parents:  Charles Edward Brooks (1850 – 1906)  Sarah Ames Brooks/Hibbard (1858 – 1946)  Spouses:  Eleanor Stimson Brooks (1884 – 1946)  Gladys Rice Brooks (1886 – 1984)*  Sibling:  Charles Ames Brooks (1883 – 1931)*  Van Wyck Brooks (1886 – 1963) *Calculated relationship

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  • February, 16, 1886
  • USA
  • Plainfield, New Jersey


  • May, 05, 1963
  • USA
  • Bridgewater, Connecticut


  • Center Cemetery
  • Bridgewater, Connecticut
  • USA

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