Robert Bingham (writer)

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Robert Worth Bingham IV[1][2] (March 14, 1966[3] – November 28, 1999) was an American writer and a founding editor of the Open City Magazine.[4]

A member of a wealthy family of Louisville, Kentucky, his great-grandfather was the politician and newspaper publisher Robert Worth Bingham,[3] and his grandfather, Barry Bingham, Sr., went into the family newspaper businesses as an editor and publisher.[2] Bingham's father, Robert Worth Bingham III (known by his middle name), who also worked in the family business and was expected to take over,[5] was killed aged 34 in a car accident while on vacation at Cape Cod in 1966, when his son was only three months old.[3][6]

Bingham graduated from Brown University in 1988.[7] He then received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University. His fiction and non-fiction appeared in The New Yorker, and he worked for two years as a reporter for the Cambodia Daily. He wrote the short story collection Pure Slaughter Value and the novel Lightning on the Sun.

Bingham died of a heroin overdose at age 33 on November 28, 1999, six months after marrying Vanessa Scharven Chase,[8] a Harvard graduate art historian,[3] and five months before the publication of his novel.[9] In Robert Bingham's honor, the PEN American Center has established the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, which awards $25,000 to the most exceptionally talented fiction writer whose debut work represents distinguished literary achievement.[10]

Bingham was a close friend of musician Stephen Malkmus; Malkmus played a show at Bingham's wedding, and served as an usher at his funeral.[11] The title of "Church on White," a song from Malkmus's debut album, Stephen Malkmus, refers to Bingham's old New York City address.[11][12]

Bingham was also a friend of poet/musician David Berman (leader of the band Silver Jews); the song 'Death Of An Heir of Sorrows', from Silver Jews' 2001 album Bright Flight, is an elegy for Bingham.[13]



  1. ^ Amelia Hill. "The life and death of Robert Bingham". the Guardian. 
  2. ^ a b "Robert W. Bingham Iv, 33, Scion Of Kentucky Newspaper Family". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. 
  3. ^ a b c d Adrian Dannatt (23 October 2011). "Obituary: Robert Bingham". The Independent. 
  4. ^ OPEN CITY Accessed September 21, 2006.
  5. ^ "Bingham, 72, Heir to Media Empire, Dies". 
  6. ^ "The Binghams of Louisville : Family Tragedy and Feuds Bring Down Media Empire". latimes. 
  7. ^ BAM: Obituaries, The Classes, March/April 2000 Archived 2006-11-26 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed September 21, 2006.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Stacey D'Erasmo. Wasted - New York Times Published April 23, 2000. Accessed September 21, 2006.
  10. ^ PEN American Center - PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers Updated 2004. Accessed September 21, 2006.
  11. ^ a b Spin magazine, Spin Media, March 2001, pg 94
  12. ^ "In Brief: Stephen Malkmus". 
  13. ^
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