An acclaimed Southern writer, he won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his 1946 novel, All the King's Men. Two of his poetry collections, Promises (1958) and Now and Then (1979), won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.
He graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1925 and went on to study at the University of California-Berkeley, Yale, and Oxford. He published his first literary work, John Brown: The Making of a Martyr, in 1929.
He served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 1944-1945.
He and his two siblings were born in Guthrie, Todd County, Kentucky, to banker Robert Franklin Warren and teacher Anna Ruth Penn Warren. He was married twice: to Emma Brescia Warren and Eleanor Clark. He and Clark became parents to two children: Rosanna Phelps Warren and Gabriel Penn Warren.
His bestselling novel, All the King's Men, was adapted into many stage and screen productions, including a 2006 film starring Sean Penn.