The Life of James Agee

Essay by TNgirl378High School, 10th gradeA+, August 2004

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James Rufus Agee was born on November 27, 1909, in Knoxville, Tennessee. When he was five years old his father was instantly killed in a tragic automobile accident. Three years later, in 1916, Agee began his schooling at St. Andrews boarding school in Sewanee, Tennessee. In 1924, he returned to Knoxville to attend public high school, but after staying for only one year he finished his secondary education at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. After graduating, Agee then decided to further his education by pursuing a career in literature at Harvard University where he became editor of the Harvard Advocate magazine in 1928. He contributed his own poetry, book reviews, and fiction to the magazine. His first major journalist position after graduating in 1932 was writing for Fortune Magazine.

Agee always had a passion for verse and fiction. He shows this passion in his personal book of poetry, Permit Me Voyage, which was published in 1934.

He and fellow photographer Walker Evans lived in Alabama to research another great book of verse titled Let Us Now Praise Famous Men which was published in 1941. Later Agee published another cherished piece of literature, a novella titled The Morning Watch in 1951.

James Agee was a man of many literary talents. He was able to develop concepts and outlooks on life not generally found in the minds of the 1940's society. Not only did he serve as a book reviewer, but also as a film critic for both Time and Nation magazines. Because of his growing success as a film critic, he developed many triumphant movie scripts throughout his career.

Agee's prosperity came to a screeching halt upon his death on May 16, 1955. Agee suffered multiple heart attacks in the back of a taxicab in New York City. Many say...