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Benét, Laura (1884–1979) - Biography

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Laura Benét was born on June 13, 1884, at Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, New York. Her father, James Walker Benét, was an army officer, and her mother was Frances Neill (Rose) Benét. Laura graduated from the Emma Willard School in 1903 and received an A.B. from Vassar College in 1907. She was a social worker in her early career days, working as a settlement worker in New York from 1913 to 1916 and as an inspector for the Red Cross Sanitary Commission during World War I. When her brother, William Rose, a writer, died in the influenza epidemic of 1919, Benét returned home to help her mother with William’s three children. She submitted occasional verse and reviews to Literary Review , began writing for children, and then graduated to adult biographies. She was also a newspaper editor with the New York Sun and later with the New York Times . Her first biography was The Boy Shelley (1937).

Over the next forty-two years, Laura Benét wrote Enchanting Jenny Lind (1939); Young Edgar Allan Poe (1941); Washington Irving (1944); Thackeray (1947); Coleridge, Poet of Wild Enchantment (1952); a biographical introduction to Tales by Edgar Allan Poe (1952); a biographical introduction to Thackeray’s Henry Esmond (1952); Stanley, Invincible Explorer (1955); and biographies of her famous brothers, William and Stephen Vincent. She also wrote compilations of biographies such as Famous American Poets (1950); Famous American Humorists (1959); Famous Poets for Young People (1964); Famous English and American Essayists (1966); Famous Storytellers for Young People (1968); and  Famous New England Authors (1970). She wrote her memoirs in When William Rose, Stephen Vincent, and I Were Young in 1976.

Laura Benét died on February 17, 1979, in New York.

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