John Berryman was born John Allyn Smith, Jr. Oct. 25, 1914 in McAlester, Oklahoma. After his father’s suicide, his mother married a bond broker in New York named John Angus McAlpin Berryman. Berryman assumed the surname, and legally adopted it in 1936. In 1932 he entered Columbia College, where he became a protege of the teacher and poet Mark Van Doren. In 1935, while still an undergraduate, his work appeared in The Nation. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa with an English major, he received a fellowship to Clare College, Cambridge, where he met or corresponded with William Butler Yeats, T. S. Eliot, I. A. Richards, W. H. Auden, F. R. Leavis, Dylan Thomas, and Stephen Spender, and where he won the Oldham Shakespeare Prize. In 1937 Robert Penn Warren agreed to publish some of John Berryman’s poems in The Southern Review. His first individual collection, Poems, was published in 1942 and on October 24 of that year, he married Eileen Patricia Mulligan in New York. In 1948 he published The Dispossessed, a major work that earned him the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award. Two years later his critical biography, Stephen Crane, was published. In 1964 he published 77 Dream Songs, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. On Jan. 7, 1972, after a lifetime of alcoholism and physical exhaustion, Berryman committed suicide by jumping off the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis.