- Agee, James Rufus
- (1909-1955)A Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, journalist, and film critic, James Agee was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. Following his father’s death in a road accident, he was educated at several boarding schools before attending Harvard University, where he became editor of the Harvard Advocate. Following his graduation he wrote for Fortune, Time, The Nation, and New Masses. His book of poetry, Permit Me Voyage, was published in 1934. In 1936 Agee, together with photographer Walker Evans, spent several weeks among the white sharecroppers of Hale County, Alabama, working on an assignment for Fortune. The material was not published by the magazine, but it appeared in book form in 1941 as Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Not a best seller in its day, it is now recognized as a classic of the Depression years, documenting the poverty and hardship of rural life with a combination of photographic images and a literary reporting style.During World War II, Agee was the film critic for Time and The Nation. He became a freelance writer in 1948 and also wrote film scripts, two of which, The African Queen (1951) and The Night of the Hunter (1955) (although there is some question about the authorship of this work), became major successes of the 1950s. A Death in the Family, a novel published in 1957, won Agee a posthumous Pulitzer Prize the following year. Several pieces of his film criticism were published as Agee on Film (1960).See also Great Depression; Literature and theater.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.