Harold Bloom Biography

Writer, Literary Critic (1930–)
Harold Bloom is an American literary critic widely known for his original theories on the creation of literature, particularly poetry.


Born in 1930 in New York City, literary critic and writer Harold Bloom is widely known for his original theories on the creation of literature, particularly poetry. He has taught at both Yale and New York University and has published numerous books such as The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages .

Early Life and Education

Born on July 11, 1930 in New York City, Harold Bloom is one of America's best known literary minds. He is the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia. At an early age, Bloom developed a passion for poetry, with American poet Hart Crane cited as one of his early favorites.

After graduating from Bronx High School of Science, Bloom earned a scholarship to Cornell University. He finished his bachelor's degree in 1951 and then continued his studies at Yale. A few years later, Bloom became a member of the university's faculty.

Leading Literary Critic

During his long career, Bloom has authored dozens of books. He first made waves in literary circles with 1973's The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry. The work was seen as controversial by some for advancing the idea that poets have a difficult connection to those who came before them, that living poets are striving to achieve their place in literary history by trying to outdo earlier writers.

Bloom stirred up further debate with 1994's The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages, which became a bestseller. At the suggestion of his publisher, he included a list of works to be included in the canon. The titles and authors featured in this list became a source of numerous disagreements. Bloom later explained to Vice, "I did it off the top of my head. I left out a lot of things that should be there and I probably put in a couple of things that I now would like to kick out."

Shakespeare and the Bible

Since then, Bloom has enjoyed success with such books as Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human (1998) and How to Read and Why (2000). More recently, he was written on one of the world's most sacred texts with 2011's The Shadow of a Great Rock: A Literary Appreciation of the King James Bible. Bloom has earned numerous honors during his career, including a MacArthur Award.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!