An American author, he is best known for his 1933 work, Anthony Adverse, which was made into a film that was directed by Mervyn LeRoy and that starred Fredric March. Allen's other literary works include Bedford Village, Toward the Morning, and The City in the Dawn.
He was a lieutenant in the U.S. Army during World War I.
He attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.
He settled in Coconut Grove, Florida with his wife Annette. He died of a heart attack at the age of sixty.
He wrote Israfel, a biography of Edgar Allan Poe.