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James Agee

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Also Known As: James Rufus Agee Died: May 16, 1955
Born: November 27, 1909 Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: Knoxville, Tennessee, USA Profession: critic, novelist, screenwriter, poet

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Noted American author whose early death at age 45 and posthumously published works elevated him to the mythic status of romantic literary hero-victim. Agee's best known books include the compelling documentary collaboration with photographer Walker Evans, "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" (1941) which chronicled the hard lives of Alabama sharecroppers, and the autobiographical, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "A Death in the Family" (posthumously published in 1957).As a film critic, Agee made a name for himself as the author of prescient, elegant prose in TIME and THE NATION during the 1940s. In 1948, he gave up reviewing to co-write John Huston's "The African Queen" (1951) and to script on his own the bizarre cult favorite, Charles Laughton's "The Night of the Hunter" (1955).The two-volume "Agee on Film"--the first part containing his acclaimed film criticism, the second his screenplays--was published posthumously in 1958 and 1960, respectively. "All the Way Home", Tad Mosel's Pulitzer Prize-winning stage adaptation of "A Death in the Family", was presented on Broadway in 1961 and later served as the basis for the film version in 1963.

Noted American author whose early death at age 45 and posthumously published works elevated him to the mythic status of romantic literary hero-victim. Agee's best known books include the compelling documentary collaboration with photographer Walker Evans, "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" (1941) which chronicled the hard lives of Alabama sharecroppers, and the autobiographical, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "A Death in the Family" (posthumously published in 1957).

As a film critic, Agee made a name for himself as the author of prescient, elegant prose in TIME and THE NATION during the 1940s. In 1948, he gave up reviewing to co-write John Huston's "The African Queen" (1951) and to script on his own the bizarre cult favorite, Charles Laughton's "The Night of the Hunter" (1955).

The two-volume "Agee on Film"--the first part containing his acclaimed film criticism, the second his screenplays--was published posthumously in 1958 and 1960, respectively. "All the Way Home", Tad Mosel's Pulitzer Prize-winning stage adaptation of "A Death in the Family", was presented on Broadway in 1961 and later served as the basis for the film version in 1963.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Face to Face (1952) Frank Gudger
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1932:
Joined editorial staff of FORTUNE magazine as feature writer
1934:
Collection of his poetry, "Permit Me Voyage" won publication in the Yale Younger Poets Series
1936:
On assignment for FORTUNE magazine, created "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" with photographer Walker Evans
:
Wrote unsigned movie reviews for TIME magazine
:
Wrote signed film column for THE NATION
1949:
Wrote and narrated documentary short, "The Quiet One"
1951:
With director John Huston, co-wrote script for "The African Queen"
1955:
Wrote the screenplay adaptation of Davis Grubb's "The Night of the Hunter"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

St Andrews School: Sewanee , Tennessee - 1919 - 1922
Phillips Exeter Academy: Exeter , New Hampshire - 1925
Harvard University: Cambridge , Massachusetts - 1928 - 1932

Notes

"Agee has become the literary intellectual's folk-hero equivalent of James Dean." --Webster Schott in The New York Times Book Review.

"I think as a critic he suffered from the fact that he really wanted to be a creator. His criticism, I think, is extremely good. It's good because he has a broad cultural background, he's got great style, he can say things in two sentences, he has intelligence, wit, and precision; and also he really does have a sense of values and he doesn't give them up. But as a person who wanted to be a creator, he kept seeing in movies all kinds of things that really weren't there ... Agee used to find some beauties in these films, some of which I don't think were there at all, but if he had been making them, they would have been ... He took the appearance for the deed. I think the main trouble with his criticism is that it often tends to be much too uncritical." --Dwight Macdonald ("Agee: His Life Remembered").

He was awarded the Yale Prize for Younger Poets (1932).

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Olivia Saunders Wood. Married in 1933; dicvorced in 1938; met while attending Harvard in 1930.
wife:
Alma Mailman Neuman. Married in 1938; separated in 1941; met while Agee was a student at Harvard.
wife:
Mia Fritsch. Born Vienna; met Agee while she was a researcher at FORTUNE magazine in 1939; married in 1944 until his death.

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Laura Tyler.
father:
Hugh James Agee. Worked at father-in-law's machine company; his death in a car accident on May 18, 1916 served as subject of Agee's novel "A Death in the Family".
son:
Joel Agee. Born in March 1940; mother, Alma Mailman Neuman.
daughter:
Teresa Agee. Born in 1946; mother, Mia Fritsch.
daughter:
Andrea Agee. Born in 1950; mother, Mia Fritsch.
son:
John Agee. Born 1946; mother, Mia Fritsch.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Let Us Now Praise Famous Men"
"Permit Me Voyage"
"Morning Watch"
"A Death in the Family"
"Agee on Film, Volume I"
"Agee on Film, Volume II"
"The Collected Poems of James Agee" Houghton Mifflin
"James Agee" Dutton
"Agee" Ivan Obolensky
"Agee: His Life Remembered" Holt, Rinehart and Winston
"James Agee and the Legend of Himself: A Critical Study" University of Missouri Press
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

Contributions

Richard Steiner ( 2005-07-15 )

Source: Book is published

The book "Chaplin and Agee: The Untold Story of the Tramp, the Writer, and the Lost Screenplay" by John Wranovics was published in 2005 which chronicles Agee's relationship with Charlie Chaplin before Chaplin's departure for England. The book includes a remarkable screenplay Agee wrote featuring the Little Tramp as the primary figure in New York after a nuclear holocaust.

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