Robert Sparks Walker (1878-1960) was born on February 4, 1878, in Chattanooga, Tennessee to William Thomas and Mary Elizabeth Moore Walker. He attended Maryville College and earned a law degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 1905.
Walker was an avid horticulturalist and naturalist, interests that were reflected in his work. His work included poetry and articles, many of which were published in magazines and newspapers, as well as short stories and novels. His bibliography includes My Father’s Farm, Outdoors in the Cumberlands, and Lookout: The Story of a Mountain. He was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for his 1931 publication Torchlight to the Cherokees. In addition to writing about nature, Walker helped found his local Audubon Society and also established the Elise Chapin Wildlife Sanctuary in East Brainerd, Tennessee.
|Robert Penn Warren circa 1960|
Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989) was born in Guthrie, Kentucky to Robert Warren and Anna Penn on April 24, 1905. He graduated from Clarksville High School in Tennessee. He then studied at Vanderbilt University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Yale University. It was at Vanderbilt that he began his association with the Fugitives, a group of poets and other literary figures, and subsequently, the Southern Agrarians, contributing an essay to the group's manifesto, I'll Take My Stand (1930).
Warren wrote a number of literary, poetic, and nonfiction works including At Heaven’s Gate (1943), Promises: Poems: 1954 – 1956 (1957), and Who Speaks for the Negro? (1965). He won three Pulitzer Prizes, two for poetry collections in 1958 and 1979 and one for his novel All the King’s Men (1946), thus making him the only person to ever win Pulitzer Prizes for both poetry and fiction. He earned several other literary awards and accolades including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1980), the National Medal of Arts (1987), and serving as the first U.S. Poet Laureate. Warren taught at several universities including Vanderbilt University, the University of Minnesota, and Louisiana State University. It was at Louisiana State University that he helped found the literary journal, The Southern Review.
Journalist Don Whitehead (1908-1981) was born on April 8, 1908, in Inman, Virginia, but was raised in Kentucky and attended the University of Kentucky. He started his journalistic career in 1928, working for newspapers in LaFollette, Tennessee and Harlan, Kentucky. His career with the Associated Press started in 1935 and he earned a great deal of respect as a journalist while covering World War II and the Korean War. Following his war experiences, Whitehead wrote several books, including the bestseller The FBI Story. During this time he also worked for the New York Herald Tribune. In the latter years of his career, he continued to write books and was a regular columnist for the Knoxville News-Sentinel. His writing earned him several awards including the George Polk Award (1950), the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting (1951) and the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting (1952).
Samuel Cole Williams (1864-1947) was born in Gibson County, Tennessee on January 15, 1864. After graduating from the Vanderbilt School of Law, he moved to Johnson City, Tennessee. In 1913, he was appointed to the Tennessee Supreme Court. From 1919 to 1924, he served as the first dean of the Lamar School of Law at Emory University in Atlanta before retiring back to Johnson City. Later in his life, he focused more on writing. As a scholar of Tennessee history, Williams published many works on the subject including History of the Lost State of Franklin (1924) and History of Johnson City and its Environs (1940). Additionally, he helped reinvigorate the Tennessee Historical Commission and founded the East Tennessee Historical Society.
|Tennessee Williams, 1941|
Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) was born Thomas Lanier Williamson on March 26, 1911, to Cornelius and Edwina Williams in Columbus, Mississippi. He briefly attended Washington University in St. Louis before graduating from the University of Iowa in 1938. At the age of 28, Williams moved to New Orleans, a place that would heavily influence his writing. Though he had some moderate success with earlier plays, success came with 1944’s The Glass Menagerie. His other major plays include A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), and The Night of Iguana (1961). Williams also wrote novels, essays, short stories, and film scripts. Several of his plays were performed on Broadway, many adapted as movies, and he won a number of awards for his writings including two Pulitzer Prizes, four Drama Critics’ Circle awards, and a Tony award.