Sunday, April 29, 2012

Robert Avrett (1901-1975)

Né William Robert Avrett
Teacher, Poet, Author, Translator, Reader
Born December 1, 1901, Milam County, Texas
Died November 23, 1975, Milam County, Texas

William Robert Avrett, called "Billie" as a child and Robert as an adult, was born on December 1, 1901, in Milam County, Texas. The 1928 yearbook for the University of Texas in Austin gave his hometown as Cameron. Avrett graduated that year, 1928, with a master's degree and a thesis called "Philosophical and Mystical Elements in the Poetry of Enrique Gonzalez Martinez." On the strength of his degree and his knowledge of the Spanish language, Avrett taught at the College of Mines and Metallurgy in El Paso, Texas (now the University of Texas at El Paso or UTEP), and the Argentine-North American Cultural Institute in Buenos Aires. He spent the greater part of his career at the University of Tennessee, from 1947 until his retirement. Avrett also studied under a fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.

An author of non-fiction, poetry, and even a children's book, Avrett contributed to magazines and journals as varied as Kaleidograph, Hispania, Holland's, Wings, Nature Magazine, Harper's Magazine, All-Story Love Stories, The Romantic Review, Woman's World, The Acolyte, and of course Weird Tales. He also wrote a brief biography of New Hampshire poet laureate Paul Scott Mowrer (1887-1971) and was the recipient of the Henry H. Bellaman Foundation award in 1960. Averett's books include:

  • Outline Spanish Review Grammar (non-fiction, 1940)
  • The Dream Comes First (verse, 1949)
  • Spanish in Review (non-fiction, 1959)
  • Against the Dark (verse, 1961)
  • The Timid Pup (children's book, 1964)

William Robert Avrett died on November 23, 1975, in Milam County, Texas.

Robert Avrett's Poems in Weird Tales
"On Hangman's Hill" (May 1935)
"The Devil's Swamp" (Mar. 1936)

Further Reading
I'm afraid I don't know of any further reading on Robert Avrett.

"Witches' Sabbath," a poem by Robert Avrett from The Acolyte #10.
And "Grecian Rhapsody" from The Acolyte #11. 
In 1964, Avrett published a children's book, The Timid Pup, illustrated by Haris Petie.
Thirty-six years earlier, as a master's student at the University of Texas, Avrett had written a thesis whose title was a scholarly mouthful. I am reminded of a quote by Pablo Picasso: "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child."

Thanks to Randal A. Everts for further information.
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley 


  1. Thanks for adding this. Robert Avrett was a distant relative of mine, and I have a copy of The Timid Pup.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    You're welcome. I hope you enjoyed it.


  3. Ok, I'll enter a comment...Because I consider his book of poetry, The Dream Comes First, to be the most extraordinary versification of thought I have ever come across (I hold a MA in Classical Literature and, personally, consider poetry to be the closest example to us, being formed in the image of G-d)!

    I found this book, while I had worked for HalfPrice Books in Austin, in of all sections, the Clearance section (so I obtained it for the whopping total of 54 cents with tax: for employees, it's quarter-priced books). I was struck "starry-eyed" from the title, itself; and have, further, committed the poem 'Books' to memory (From all the garnered grains/of wisdom, etc. Like Poe's Dream Within a Dream)

    I have, also, obtained since then (maybe 2003-4) his other book of poetry, Against the Dark, which I have just finished re-re-re-reading (I think) at break time from work (where I am at, now). More mature, still exceptional! I'm glad I decided to "Google" him, before break ends, in order to satisfy my curiosity. Have thought about writing a biography on him (from left field), or at least finding one.

    Thank you for this forum; any idea, even an inkling, on S. Lloyd Cowan? He's another Texas poet I came across, whose poetry--more Biblically oriented--I consider sui generis!

  4. Hi TJ,

    I'm glad you like what I wrote, and I'm glad you like what Robert Avrett wrote even more. I don't have anything on S. Lloyd Cowan except that he was a Texas poet. Good luck in your search.