Remembered for his highly influential works of literary criticism, this 20th-century writer and literary theorist is perhaps best known for his 1966 work Language as Symbolic Action. His other important works include Dramatism and Development (1972); The Rhetoric of Hitler's "Battle" (1939); and A Grammar of Motives (1945).
Before devoting his life to literary theory, he briefly studied at Ohio University and Columbia University, ultimately dropping out of both institutions.
He was the grandfather of the popular American folk singer Harry Chapin (known best for the 1974 hit song "Cat's in the Cradle").
His first marriage -- to Lily Mary Batterham -- resulted in a musician daughter named Jeanne Elspeth Chapin Hart; an author daughter named France Burke; and an anthropologist and activist daughter named Eleanor Leacock. His second marriage -- to his late wife's sister, Elizabeth Batterham -- produced sons named Anthony and Michael.
He was a friend and high school classmate of fellow American writer and critic Malcolm Cowley.