James Rufus Agee was born on November 17, 1909, in Knoxville, Tennessee, the first of two children. His father, Hugh James Agee, was from rugged farming stock in the mountainous backwoods of Tennessee while Laura Tyler, his mother, had a more educated and artistic background. Her mother, Agee’s grandmother, was among the first women to graduate from the University of Michigan. Throughout his life Agee was very aware of the contradictions of this twofold heritage. His mother was a devout Episcopalian and sheltered Agee whereas his father introduced adventure and pleasures such as going to the movies and taking his son to the pubs afterward. As a result, Agee was both timid and daring as a child. The death of Agee’s father in an automobile accident in May 1916 was a major turning point in his life.
After vacationing near Sewanee, Tennessee, in the summer of 1918, Agee’s mother decided to relocate there and enrolled her son at Saint Andrew’s, an Episcopalian boarding school, which… read more
"I do not care for movies very much and I rarely see them; further, I am suspicious of criticism as the literary genre which, more than any other, recruits epigones, pedants without insight, and intellectuals without love. I am all the more surprised, therefore, to find myself not only reading your film critic before I read anyone else in your magazine but also consciously looking forward all week to reading him again. In my opinion his column is the most remarkable regular event in American journalism today." WH Auden on James Agee