Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Bethlehem, Lehigh County
The sister of Stephen Vincent and William Rose Benet, Laura was a poet, novelist, and a noted biographer, although she did not achieve the literary success that her brothers did.
Laura Benét, born June 13, 1884, was an award-winning poet after receiving an award from the National Poetry Center in 1936. In 1958, she had her poems recorded at the Library of Congress. She also received recognition from the National Society of Arts and Letters. She studied at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She died on February 17, 1979.
Laura Benét was a social worker, newspaper editor, poet, novelist and biographer. She was born June 13, 1884, at Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, New York. She was the daughter of James Walker, an army officer, and Frances Neill Benét (maiden name, Rose). She was the elder sister to two very important literary figures: Saturday Review editor William Rose Benet (18 months younger) and Pulitzer Prize-winner Stephen Vincent (12 years younger). Benét graduated from the Emma Willard School in Troy, New York. She received a bachelor’s degree at Vassar College in 1907, and she received a litt.D degree from Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1967.
As a social worker, she worked for places like Spring Street Settlement (1913-1916) and Children’s Aid Society (1917) in New York City. After retiring from social work, she worked for several New York newspapers as an editor. She was an assistant editor of book page at the New York Evening Post (1926-1928), an assistant to book page editor at the New York Evening Sun (1928-1929), and a substitute review editor of the New York Times (1930).
During her time as a writer, she wrote children’s books, novels, poetry, and biographies. “Benét’s six slim books of poetry are only a small part of her output, but she considered herself a poet first,” according to Carol Gartner. The poems in Is Morning Sure? “are more solid, yet still characteristically delicate,” explains Gartner. The following poem is from Is Morning Sure?.
Slim Foot I know a meadow Where light is dim. Poppy flowers Burn at its rim, Doves cry drowsily, Streams lie still, Brown head to gold head Nods at will.
To reach that meadow, O child of grace, Let lacy spider web Cover your face. Lay your hand on the root By the rose-thorn hedge- And-your-slim-foot- Goes-over-its-edge!
The following poem is from In Love with Time, the book of poetry that Benét considered to be her best volume:
In Love with Time I saw Time in a dream and he was young, Young as the proudest stripling of eighteen. He moved like summer wind and round him clung Days, minutes, hours wreathed in fresh-cut green, His Burnished hair a mane of flying gold. I saw Time in a dream; he was not old.
I saw Time in a dream and he was fair As a May hillside or a sparkling river. Enveloped in warm sun, benignant air, He stood – no reaper but a lavish giver. His open hands tossed years to spend and spare. I saw Time in a dream and oh, how fair!
Benét belonged to the Poetry Society of America, PEN, Women Poets, Craftsman Group, and the Pen and Brush Club (honorary). In 1936, she received a medal as an honor poet from the National Poetry Center. Her poems were recorded at the Library of Congress in 1958. Laura Benét lived in New York City and died on February 17, 1979. She was buried in Section 6 of the Arlington National Cemetery with her parents.
Is Morning Sure? New York: Odyssey, 1947.
In Love with Time. New Hampshire: Wake-Brook House, 1959
Goods and Chattels. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran, 1930.
Young Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Dodd, 1941.
Washington Irving, Explorer of American Legend. New York: Dodd, 1944.
Thackeray, of the Great Heart and Humorous Pen. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1947.
Coleridge, Poet of Wild Enchantment. New York: Dodd, 1952.
The Mystery of Emily Dickinson. New York: Dodd, 1974.
Famous Poets for Young People. New York: Dodd, 1964.
When William Rose, Stephen Vincent, and I Were Young. New York: Dodd, 1976.
Gartner, Carol B. “Benét, Laura.” American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide from Colonial Times to the Present. Ed. Taryn Benbow-Pfalzgraf. Vol. 1. 2nd ed. Detroit: St. James Press, 2000. 77-78.
“Laura Benét.” The Gale Literary Database: Contemporary Authors Online. 28 Oct. 2003. 23 Jan. 2007. <>http://www.galenet.com>.