James Agee

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James Agee (1909-1955) was an American author of social criticism, a journalist, and later a film critic. His works include Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), A Death in the Family (1957), and Agee on Film (1958). He won a Pulitzer Prize for A Death in the Family.[1] His most famous piece, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, reported to the North of the tragic poverty of blacks in the South.

Life and works

Agee was born November 27, 1909, in Knoxville, Tennessee.[2] In 1939, when he was working for Fortune magazine, he was sent to Alabama to report on the poverty of Southern blacks - and discovered that the magazine column could not to justice to the tragedy that was happening.[3] He vied to describe it, with the aid of Walker Evan's photographs, in his Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, which was tragically obscure, and he became better known for his film reviews.[4] His book would not be recognized as a landmark social criticism until much later. He alit on a family called the Gudgers, and later two called the Ricksettes and the Woodses, in his quest not to publish statistics, not to rally people, but to produce great literature.[5]

Later in life, he returned to film and criticism, and his Agee on Film would seem to renew interest in silent movies.[6] He wrote the screenplay for a movie entitled The African Queen, allegedly influenced by all the great writers of the past.[7] He died May 16, 1955.[8]


  1. The New York Public Library Student's Desk Reference. Prentice Hall, New York, 1993.
  2. "James Agee." Biography.com. http://www.biography.com/people/james-agee-9177159#synopsis
  3. Haughney, Christine. "James Agee's Article as Cottom Tenants: Three Families." The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/04/business/media/james-agees-article-as-cotton-tenants-three-families.html
  4. Heitman, Danny. "Let Us Now Praise James Agee." Humanities. July/August 2012. https://www.neh.gov/humanities/2012/julyaugust/feature/let-us-now-praise-james-agee
  5. "A Famous Man." The New Yorker. January 9, 2006. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2006/01/09/a-famous-man
  6. "Agee, James." Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
  7. "James Agee." Poetry Foundation. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/james-agee
  8. "Agee, James." Encyclopedia Britannica Online.

External links