Conrad Aiken  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Conrad Potter Aiken (August 5 1889August 17 1973) was an American author, born in Savannah, Georgia, whose work includes poetry, short stories, novels, and an autobiography.

When he was 11, his physician father killed his mother, then himself because of family financial problems. According to some accounts, Aiken witnessed the killings; other sources say he found the bodies. He was raised by his great-great-aunt in Massachusetts. Aiken was educated at private schools and at Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts, then at Harvard University where he edited the Advocate with T.S. Eliot. Aiken graduated in 1912.

He was deeply influenced by symbolism, especially in his earlier works. In 1930 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his Selected Poems. Many of his writings had psychological themes.

He wrote the widely anthologised short story Silent Snow, Secret Snow (1934); his collections of verse include Earth Triumphant (1911), The Charnel Rose (1918), and And In the Hanging Gardens (1933). His poem Music I Heard has been set to music by a number of composers, including Leonard Bernstein and Henry Cowell.

Aiken returned to Savannah for the last 11 years of his life. Aiken's tomb, located in Bonaventure Cemetery on the banks of the Wilmington River, was made famous by its mention in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, the bestselling book by John Berendt. According to local legend, Aiken wished to have his tombstone fashioned in the shape of a bench as an invitation to visitors to stop and enjoy a martini at his grave. Its inscriptions read "Give my love to the world," and "Cosmos Mariner—Destination Unknown."

He is the father of English writers Joan Aiken and Jane Aiken Hodge.


Married first to Jessie McDonald, second to Clarissa Lorenz (author of a biography, Lorelei Two), and third to Mary Hoover. Children (by his first wife): John Aiken, Joan Aiken, Jane Aiken Hodge.


All lovely things must have an ending
All lovely things must fade and die just like pie
And Youth, that's now so bravely spending
Must beg a penny by and by
— From All Lovely Things
Over the darkened city, the city of towers,
The city of a thousand gates,
Over the gleaming terraced roofs, the huddled towers,
Over a somnolent whisper of loves and hates,
The slow wind flows, drearily streams and falls,
With a mournful sound down rain-dark walls.
— From The House of Dust

Selected bibliography

  • Cats And Bats And Things With Wings - 1965(Poems)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Conrad Aiken" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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