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James Agee (1909–1955)

Author of A Death in the Family

Includes the names: James Agee, James Agees

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Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, on November 27, 1909 and educated at Harvard, James Agee crowded versatile literary activity into his short and troubled life. In addition to two novels, he wrote short stories, essays, poetry, and screenplays; he worked professionally as a journalist and film critic. Appropriately, he is best remembered for a work that combines several genres and literary approaches. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a documentary report on sharecropper life accompanied by vividly realistic photographs by Walker Evans, has been called "a great Moby Dick of a book" (New York Times Book Review). It may be considered an important precursor of the so-called nonfiction novel that was to gain prominence during the 1960s. The Morning Watch (1954), a novel in the tradition of portraits of artists-to-be, and A Death in the Family, a moving account of domestic life based on the loss of Agee's father belong to more conventional types of fiction. The 1960 dramatization of All the Way Home by Tad Mosel, won a Pulitizer Prize and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award; it was also cited by Life as the "Best American Play of the Season." Agee's work for the screen included his scripts for The African Queen and The Night of the Hunter. Agee on Film (1958-60) consists of a gathering of reviews and comments as well as five scripts. Prior to Laurence Bergreen's well-received 1984 biography of Agee, the principal source of information about his life was Letters of James Agee to Father Flye, a collection of seventy letters written by Agee to his instructor at St. Andrew's School and trusted friend throughout his life. The letters show Agee most often in a reflective, self-condemning mood. The final letters, written from the hospital where he was battling daily heart attacks, are touching, as are his sad reflections on the work he yet wanted to do. Agee died in New York of a heart attack on May 16, 1955. He was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1957 for A Death in the Family. (Bowker Author Biography) — biography from A Death in the Family… (more)
A Death in the Family 2,924 copies, 63 reviews
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men 2,046 copies, 21 reviews
The Night of the Hunter [1955 film] (Screenwriter) 163 copies, 3 reviews
The Morning Watch 144 copies, 3 reviews
Cotton Tenants: Three Families 136 copies, 3 reviews
Helen Levitt (Author) 47 copies, 1 review
The Best American Essays of the Century (Contributor) 736 copies, 4 reviews
As I Lay Dying [Norton Critical Edition] (Contributor) 534 copies, 6 reviews
Fifty Great American Short Stories (Contributor) 407 copies, 3 reviews
The Best American Essays 2004 (Contributor) 284 copies, 1 review
The African Queen [1951 film] (Screenwriter) 275 copies, 3 reviews
American Religious Poems: An Anthology (Contributor) 156 copies, 1 review
Many Are Called (Introduction) 103 copies, 1 review
A Way of Seeing (Contributor) 51 copies, 1 review
Southern Dogs and Their People (Contributor) 38 copies
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