Log In

Newton Arvin Edit Profile

also known as Frederick Newton Arvin

academician , critic , writer

Newton Arvin was an American literary critic and academic. He achieved national recognition for his studies of individual nineteenth-century American authors.

After teaching at Smith College for 38 years, he was forced into retirement in 1960 after pleading guilty to charges stemming from the possession of pictures of semi-nude males that the law deemed pornographic.


Truman Capote established in his will the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism to be awarded "in honor of the critic Newton Arvin." It has been awarded annually since 1994 by the University of Iowa. It is said to be the largest annual cash prize for literary criticism in the English language.

In 2001, Barry Werth published a biography, The Scarlet Professor: Newton Arvin: A Literary Life Shattered by Scandal. It provoked a response from Arvin’s nephew that criticized its portrayal of Arvin and particularly the charge that Arvin provided names of colleagues to the police in 1960.

Mount Holyoke College held a symposium about Newton Arvin in 2001.

In 2002, Smith College established the "Newton Arvin Prize in American Studies," a student award.

In 2006, an independent documentary film titled The Great Pink Scare aired on the PBS series Independent Lens. It covers the arrests of Arvin, Spofford, and Dorius, and their subsequent careers.


  • book

    • Hawthorne

    • Whitman

    • Herman Melville

    • Longfellow: His Life and Work