|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. Following John Crowe Ransom, 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.
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 school 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. 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.
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.
|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.