Born in Kentucky as the oldest of three, Robert Penn Warren (1905–89) was a poet, novelist, and literary critic. He entered Vanderbilt University at the age of 16 and went on to attend Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Most famous for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel All the King’s Men (1946), Warren was also awarded two Pulitzers in Poetry, the National Literature Medal, and Presidential Medal of Freedom. A prolific author, he published sixteen volumes of poetry, eleven novels, a book of short stories, and many nonfiction works. He taught at several universities, including Vanderbilt, Yale, and Louisiana State. While at LSU, he co-founded The Southern Review.
In this short story, first published in the Winter 1937 issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review, novelist and poet Robert Penn Warren draws on elements of the Christmas story to illumine the tale of a ten-year-old boy named Sill Lancaster as he starts out on a journey to find a doctor to deliver a child for his sister.