John Crowe Ransom (1888-1974) was born on April 30, 1888, in Pulaski, Tennessee to John James and Ella Crowe Ransom. As his father was a Methodist minister, Ransom had a very religious upbringing. He entered Vanderbilt University at the age of 15. While also teaching intermittently in Tennessee, he graduated in 1909 first in his class and went on to attend Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar from 1910-1913.
Ransom returned to teach at his alma mater, Vanderbilt University, in 1914 and then served in World War I as an artillery officer in France. Ransom was a founding member of the Fugitives, a Southern literary school of thought started at Vanderbilt circa 1920 and included writers such as Robert Penn Warren and Allen Tate. It was during this time that Ransom began writing poetry. In 1930, he contributed an essay to the Southern Agrarian manifesto, I'll Take My Stand, in opposition the rapid industrialization of the area; later in life, Ransom would distance himself from this ideology and even criticize it.
In 1937 Ransom began his tenure at Kenyon College. Here, he was the founding editor of the Kenyon Review, a prestigious literary magazine, and remained in the position until his academic retirement in 1959. Several of his students went on to be prolific and notable writers of their own right. Ransom's most popular works include two collections of his poetry: Chills and Fever (1924) and Two Gentlemen in Bonds (1927). His literary awards include the Bollingen Prize for Poetry in 1951 and the National Book Award for Poetry in 1952.
George Scarbrough (1915-2008) was born on October 20, 1915 to William Oscar and Louise Anabel (McDowell) Scarbrough in Polk County, Tennessee. His mother encouraged him to read but because the family moved so frequently, he didn’t complete high school until he was 20. After graduating Scarbrough worked intermittently as a farmer and newspaper writer to afford college. He briefly attended the University of Tennessee and the University of the South but completed his BA from Lincoln Memorial University in 1943. He returned to the University of Tennessee to complete his MA in 1954. Scarbrough taught at several schools and colleges including Hiwassee College in Madisonville, Tennessee and Chattanooga College.
As a poet, his work focused on the Appalachian region and local customs. His poetry collections include Tellico Blue (1947), Summer So-Called (1956), and Invitation to Kim (1989) which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Additionally, his poetry has been published sy over 60 magazines and journals. His only novel, A Summer Ago, was published in 1986.
|Escapade, Scott's 1923 novel about her experiences in Brazil|
Born Elsie Dunn in 1893 to Maude Thomas and Seely Dunn in Clarksville, Tennessee, Evelyn Scott (1893-1963) was an American author, poet, and essayist. She moved to New Orleans as a teenager and, when she was twenty, she eloped with Creighton Wellman, a married dean from Tulane University. The couple changed their names to Evelyn and Cyril Kay Scott and emigrated to Brazil where they had a son during their six-year stay. After World War I, they moved back to New York. Scott divorced Cyril in 1928 and married John Metcalfe, a novelist, in 1930.
Scott was a prolific writer. While in Brazil, she wrote and published several poems and her first collection, Precipitations, was published in 1920. Scott also wrote several novels with her first, The Narrow House, published in 1921. A lot of her work focused on Southern life, culture, and social politics. In addition, she authored several autobiographical works including the 1923 publication Escapade, which details the first three years of her expatriation in Brazil.
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Thomas Sigismund Stribling (1881-1965) was born on March 3, 1881, in Clifton, Tennessee to Christopher and Amelia Stribling. He graduated from Florence Normal School in 1903 and from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1905. In 1908 he began writing short stories to support himself, and in 1917 he began writing novels as well. One of his earliest novels, Birthright, was originally serialized in Century Magazine, but was published in novel form in 1922. Differing from the short stories he had published, which were mostly science fiction and adventure focused, Birthright looked at social and racial issues in the South. Stribling also continued to write adventure-based novels, including Red Sand (1924) and Strange Moon (1929), which drew inspiration from his travels around the world. In 1933 he won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Store, which is the second volume in his acclaimed Vaiden trilogy, a set of novels following three generations of the Alabama-based family the Vaidens throughout the Civil War and into the 20th century. After his death, Stribling's wife, Luella Kloss, with the help of two editors, published his autobiography, Laughing Stock, in 1982.
|Allen Tate circa 1960|
Poet Allen Tate (1899-1979) was born John Orley Allen Tate on November 19, 1899, in Winchester, Kentucky to John Orley Tate and Eleanor Parke Custis Varnell. He studied violin at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music from 1916 to 1917 before enrolling at Vanderbilt University in 1918. It was here that he became a member of the Fugitives, a literary school of thought started at Vanderbilt University circa 1920 consisting of writers (mostly poets) such as John Crowe Ransom and Robert Penn Warren. The group published the short-lived literary journal The Fugitive from 1922-1925. Tate also spent time with Ransom teaching at Kenyon College in Ohio. Tate moved to New York City in 1924 where he was a freelance writer for several publications including the National Review. In 1928, he published his first poetry collection, Mr. Pope and Other Poems, as well as the biography Stonewall Jackson: The Good Soldier. Tate would go on to published several works of both poetry and prose.
After some time abroad, Tate returned to Tennessee in 1930. Like many of the Fugitives, he joined the Southern Agrarian movement of the time and contributed to their manifesto, I'll Take My Stand (1930). Tate was a poet in residence at Princeton University until 1942. He began teaching at New York University in 1948 and accepted a tenured appointment at the University of Minnesota in 1951. He was also the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1943 to 1944.
Tate was married three times. He married writer Caroline Gordon in 1925, poet Isabella Gardner in 1959, and Helen Heinz, a former student at the University of Minnesota, in 1966.
Peter Matthew Hillsman Taylor (1917-1994), a short story author, was born on January 8, 1917, in Trenton, Tennessee. His family first moved to Nashville and then St. Louis before settling in Memphis where he graduated from high school in 1935. Taylor attended several colleges, beginning with his enrollment at Southwestern College in Memphis in 1936 where he was taught by poet Allen Tate. He transferred to Vanderbilt University to study writing with John Crowe Ransom and then followed Ransom to Kenyon College. He then went on to Louisiana State to study under Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks. Taylor was drafted into the army in 1940 and served for five years. After his service, he taught as several universities, including Kenyon College and the University of Virginia, before settling in Charlottesville, Virginia.
His early stories were published in several literary magazines across the country as well as The New Yorker. His first book, A Long Fourth and Other Stories, was published in 1948 and included an introduction by Warren. In addition to short stories, Taylor also published several novels and plays. Taylor was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1950 and received a National Institute of Arts and Letters grant in 1951. He also won several awards including the gold medal for literature from the National Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the PEN/Faulkner award for fiction in 1983, and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for A Summons to Memphis in 1987.