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Tennessee Authors (Special Collections): I-L

This research guide highlights primary sources and research materials about prominent authors in Tennessee.

Randall Jarrell

Sepia portrait of Randall Jarrell sitting in armchair
Randall Jarrell circa 1960

Poet Randall Jarrell (1914-1965) was born in Nashville, Tennessee on May 6, 1914 to Owen and Anna Jarrell. His family moved briefly to Los Angeles but he returned to Tennessee with his mother when his parents divorced. Jarrell attended Vanderbilt University where he studied under Robert Penn Warren, Allen Tate, and John Crowe Ransom. He graduated from Vanderbilt with a BA in 1935 and a Masters in English in 1937. Jarrell taught at Kenyon College in Ohio for several years before leaving to teach at the University of Texas at Austin in 1939. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1942 and served for four years. After he was discharged, Jarrell briefly taught at Sarah Lawrence College before settling at the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina in 1947.

His first collection of poetry, Blood for a Stranger, was published in 1942. Many of his poems reflected on his time with the military, including the 1945 collection, Little Friend, Little Friend. In addition to his poetry, he wrote several children’s books including The Bat-Poet and The Animal Family. He received many awards throughout his lifetime including the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1947 and a National Institute of Arts and Letters grant in 1951. He also won the National Book Award for Poetry in 1961 for his collection, The Woman at the Washington Zoo.

Randall was married twice. He married Mackie Langham in 1940 and Mary von Schrader in 1952. Jarrell attempted suicide in 1965 and was recovering at a hospital in Chapel Hill. While there, he was struck by a car while walking on U.S. 15-501 and died on October 14, 1965.


  • Little Friend, Little Friend. 1945 (PS3519 .A86 L5)
  • The Anchor Book of Stories. 1958 (PN6014 .A53 1958)
  • The Bat-Poet. 1967 (PS3519 .A86 B38 1967)
  • About Popular Culture. 1981 (PS3519.A86 A61 1981) 
  • Randall Jarrell's Letters: An Autobiographical and Literary Selection. 1985 (PS3519.A86 Z48 1985)

May Justus

May Justus (1898-1989) was one of ten children born to Stephen and Margaret Brooks Justus in Del Rio, Tennessee on May 12, 1898. She and her siblings grew up in a house of storytellers. Around the age of 12, Justus read Louisa May Alcott's Little Women and the book’s Jo March character inspired her to become a writer. She graduated from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor's degree. Justus began teaching in a variety of schools in the 1930s, but stopped working full time after developing a heart ailment in 1939.

During her time teaching, she began writing children's books based on her own childhood experiences and on folk songs and tales passed on by her family. Several of these books won awards, including Gabby Gaffer's New Shoes and Near Side and Far, which won the Julia Ellsworth Ford Prize in 1935 and 1936, respectively, and Luck for Little Lulu which won the Boy's Club Award in 1950. After developing a heart ailment in 1939, Justus would dedicate herself to her writing, but she would provide special instruction to children with various special needs, conducted a program of stories and songs for children, and kept an attic library for children, all in the home she shared with McCampbell. Justus also volunteered with the Highlander Folk School beginning in 1932 and was an active supporter of civil rights, helping to integrate Tennessee schools in the 1950s. She died in Tennessee on November 7, 1989.

Manuscript Resources

Other Resources

  • Betty Lou of Big Log Mountain. 1928 (PS3519.U828 B4)
  • Gabby Gaffer's New Shoes. 1935 (PS3519.U828 G32)
  • Dixie Decides. 1942 (PS3519.U828 D5)
  • Bluebird, Fly Up! 1943 (PS3519.U828 B49)
  • New Boy in School. 1963 (PS3519.U828 N49)
  • Eben and the Rattlesnake. 1969 (PS3519.U828 E2 1969)

Harry Harrison Kroll

black and white portrait of harry Harrison Kroll
Harry Harrison Kroll (Tennessee Alumnus)

Harry Harrison Kroll (1888-1967) was born to Darius Wesley and Caroline (Cripe) Kroll near Hartford City, Indiana on February 18, 1888 and spent much of his childhood in Dyersburg, Tennessee. He married Nettie Heard on May 12, 1911, and the couple had three children: Harry Harrison, Jr., Robert Torrey, and Danny Wesley. Kroll worked as a rural school teacher and high school principal in Alabama before earning his BS (1923) and MA (1925) from the George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tennessee. He went on to work as a professor of English and head of the English department at Lincoln Memorial University (1925-1927), a professor of journalism at Iowa Wesleyan College (1928-1929), and an associate professor and head of the English department at the University of Tennessee Junior College at Martin. Kroll was a prolific writer, often focusing his work on rural life in the South, and produced a number of short stories and novels including The Cabin in The Cotton (1931), The Ghosts of Slave Driver’s Bend (1937), Rogues’ Company (1943), and Smoldering Fire (1955). Harry Kroll retired in 1958 and died on June 11, 1967.

Manuscript Resources

Other Resources

  • The Mountainy Singer. 1928 (PS3521.R566 M6)
  • The Cabin in the Cotton. 1931 (PS3521.R566 C3 1931)
  • The Usurper. 1941 (PS3521.R566 U8 1941)
  • Fury in the Earth. 1945 (PS3521.R566 F8)
  • Lost Homecoming. 1950 (PS3521.R566 L6)

Andrew Nelson Lytle

Dust jacket of Andrew Lytle's novel, The Velvet Horn, "a novel of man's search for wholeness."
Book jacket for The Velvet Horn, one of Andrew Nelson Lytle's novels

Andrew Nelson Lytle (1902-1995) was born on December 26, 1902, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee to Robert Logan Lytle and Lillie Belle Nelson. He attended Sewanee Military Academy and graduated with a BA from Vanderbilt in 1925. He later spent time at Oxford and also studied drama at Yale. He married Edna Baker in 1938. The couple had three daughters.

Lytle was associated with the Southern Agrarians, a group of poets, novelists, and writers that published the collection of essays, I’ll Take My Stand, a philosophical manifesto against industrialization and urbanization. Lytle’s first published work was Bedford Forrest and His Critter Company, a biography of Nathan Bedford Forrest. He went on to publish several novels, short stories, and essays including The Long Night (1936), The Velvet Horn (1957), and The Hero With the Private Parts: Essays (1966).

He also taught at several institutions including Southwestern at Memphis, the Iowa Writers Workshop, and Kenyon College. He finished his academic career at the University of the South where he taught English and creative writing and served as editor of The Sewanee Review which rose to prominence as one of the nation's foremost literary magazines while under Lytle's guidance. Lytle’s honors include a Kenyon Review fellowship and a National Institute of Arts and Letters fellowship.


  • I'll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition. 1930 (HC107.A13 I3)
  • A Fragment: How Nuno de Tovar Came to Cross the Ocean Sea. 1939 (PS3539 .A9633 M46 1939)
  • A Name for Evil; A Novel. 1947 (PS3523.Y88 N3)
  • The Velvet Horn. 1957 (PS3523.Y88 V44 1957)
  • Reflections of a Ghost: An Agrarian View After Fifty Years. 1980 (PS3523.Y88 A16 1980)
  • Bedford Forrest and His Critter Company. 1984 (E467.1.F72 L9 1984)
  • On a Birthday. 1984 (PS3513 .O5765 D73 1984)

Special Collections and University Archives

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Special Collections
121 Hodges Library
1015 Volunteer Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37996

Go to Special Collections for more information.