Born on May 6, 1914, Randall Jarrell grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. After earning his BA and MA degrees from Vanderbilt University, he taught at Kenyon College, the University of Texas, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
In 1964, Mr. Jarrell was struggling with writer’s block. His friend and editor, Michael di Capua, suggested he try to write a children’s book. He wrote three. Garth Williams illustrated the first, The Gingerbread Rabbit. A young Maurice Sendak illustrated The Animal Family and The Bat-Poet. Sendak said of the making of the latter, “And, fortunately, The Bat-Poet was done in the 1960s. We had a wonderful art director, and Michael di Capua had a passion for bookmaking, so that book was sumptuously produced, without our even knowing or caring what the sales figures would be. That first edition was an expression of our supreme admiration for Randall, but also an homage to the art of bookmaking.” All three books have been in print ever since then.
Randall Jarrell died in 1965 after being struck by a car.