Robert L. Patten, the Lynette S. Autrey Professor Emeritus of Humanities at Rice University, was born on April 26, 1939 in Oklahoma City. He received his B.A. from Swarthmore College in 1960. He went on to earn an M.A. (1962) and Ph.D. (1965) from Princeton University. After college, Patten lectured in English at Bryn Mawr College, leaving there in 1969 to take a position as Assistant Professor in the English Department at Rice University, where he became a full professor in 1976. In 1991 and 1992 Patten chaired Rice’s English Department, and he also chaired the English Graduate Committee for much of the 80s, 90s, and from 2005-09.
Robert L. Patten was a Fulbright Scholar from 1963 to 1964 and a Guggenheim Fellow in 1980. He was also chosen as a Couper Scholar in 2004, served as president of the Rice University Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa from 1991 to 1994 and 1997 to 2002, and chaired the Dickens Society in 1973 and 1974. Patten has served in numerous capacities at Rice University, including the Sallyport Award Committee (1986-87), the Advisory Committee on Parking (1992-94), and the University Review Board (1982-84).
Robert L. Patten writes primarily about Victorian literature, graphic arts, and print culture. He has co-edited volumes of essays on Dickens with John O. Jordan (Literature in the Marketplace, Cambridge, 1995) and John Bowen (Palgrave Advances in Charles Dickens Studies, Palgrave, 2006). His books on Dickens include Charles Dickens and His Publishers (Oxford, 1978; 2nd edn. enlarged, 2017) and the Colby prize winning Charles Dickens and "Boz": The Birth of the Industrial-Age Author, Cambridge, 2012). His two-volume biography, George Cruikshank's Life, Times, and Art (Rutgers, 1992, 1996) was named the best biography of the 1990s by the Guardian. And for the Ashgate Library of Essays on Charles Dickens, a 6-volume series edited by Catherine Waters, he edited the volume on Dickens and Victorian Print Culture (2012).