The son of Walker Dabney Stuart Jr., a hardware wholesaler, and Martha von Schilling Stuart, Dabney Stuart was born Walker Dabney Stuart III on November 4, 1937, in Richmond, where he lived until enrolling in college. Stuart began writing poetry as a teenager at summer camp and often used places and people he knew in Virginia as his subject matter. Later, Stuart attended Davidson College in North Carolina, where he received a BA in English in 1960. Stuart continued on to Harvard University, where he earned an MA in English in 1962.
In 1965, after appointments at various colleges, Stuart began teaching English at Washington and Lee University, where he remained through his retirement. From 1966 until 1976, Stuart was the poetry and review editor of Shenandoah, the literary journal published through the English Department at Washington and Lee; he later served as chief editor of the journal from 1988 until 1995.
Stuart's first book, The Diving Bell (1966), is a poetry collection written in the academic formalist style of the time in which a young man imagines his future by looking at his past. Stuart published numerous volumes of poetry over the next several decades, during which time his style grew from his earlier formalism to the freer, occasionally experimental, verse that defined his later years.
In 1987, Stuart published Don't Look Back, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Continuing the trend seen in his earlier collections, the book finds the author examining people and places from his past in order to inform his present psyche. He followed Don't Look Back with Narcissus Dreaming (1990), which also received a Pulitzer Prize nomination. This collection of poems that marks a transition from the purely personal to a look at the greater world. Its subjects range from baseball to dreamlike reimaginings of myths and fairy tales.
In 1992, Stuart published his first collection of short stories, Sweet Lucy Wine, which was later followed by short story collections The Way to Cobbs Creek (1997) and No Visible Means of Support (2001). Family Preserve (2005) is a collection of previously published poems, unpublished work, and new poems all centering on the subject of family. Stuart lives with his wife, Sandra Westcott, whom he wed in 1983, in Lexington and continues to write. He has a daughter and two sons from previous marriages.
November 4, 1937 - Dabney Stuart is born in Richmond, Virginia.
1960 - Dabney Stuart earns a BA in English from Davidson College in North Carolina.
1962 - Dabney Stuart earns an MA in English from Harvard University.
1965 - After various appointments at other schools, Dabney Stuart begins teaching English at Washington and Lee University.
1966 - Dabney Stuart's first book of poetry, The Diving Bell, is published.
1987 - Dabney Stuart's Don't Look Back is published, and is later nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
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First published: October 30, 2008 | Last modified: December 28, 2013