Conrad Potter Aiken was an American novelist and poet, whose work includes poetry, short stories, novels, a play and an autobiography.
Aiken was the son of wealthy, socially prominent New Englanders who had moved to Savannah, Georgia, where his father became a highly respected physician and surgeon. But then something happened for which, as Aiken later said, no one could ever find a reason. Without warning or apparent cause, his father became increasingly irascible, unpredictable, and violent. Then, early in the morning of February 27, 1901, he murdered his wife and shot himself. According to his own writings, Aiken (who was eleven years old) heard the gunshots and discovered the bodies. He was raised by his 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 who became a lifelong friend and associate.
Aiken's earliest poetry was written partly under the influence of a beloved teacher, the philosopher George Santayana This relation shaped Aiken as a poet who was deeply musical in his approach and, at the same time, philosophical in seeking answers to his own problems and the problems of the modern world.
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