Malcolm Cowley grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and interrupted his undergraduate career at Harvard to drive a camion during World War I. He moved to New York City in 1919 and worked as an editor of The New Republic from 1929 to 1940. He served as president of the National Institute of Arts and Letters from 1956 to 1959 and from 1962 to 1965 and was chancellor of the American Academy of Arts and Letters from 1966 to 1976. He wrote numerous books of literary criticism, essays, and poetry, and edited many collections and anthologies. Among his many awards and honors were the Gold Medal for Belles Lettres and Criticism from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and the Hubbell Medal of the Modern Language Association for service to the study of American literature.
Donald W. Faulkner is the editor of Malcolm Cowley's The Flower and the Leaf: A Contemporary Record of American Writing Since 1945 ( 1985) and The Portable Malcolm Cowley ( 1990). He has written extensively on Cowley for literary journals, and was a fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago, where Cowley's papers are housed. Faulkner teaches literature and creative writing at Yale University.