Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

James Agee (1909-1955)

The morning of Harvard’s commencement ceremony in 1932, James Agee rushed over to Sanders Theatre with his convocation ode, which he had been elected to perform in front of his graduating class. He had composed the poem only the night before, finishing it shortly before he was to deliver it. In his rush to arrive…

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Arna Bontemps (1902-1973)

Born in Alexandria, Louisiana, on October 13, 1902, Arna W. Bontemps began life with roots in the Southern United States. But at age 3, Bontemps moved with his family to California, escaping the racism of the South. When Bontemps’s mother died, he was sent to live with his uncle who introduced him to Southern black…

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Roark Bradford (1896-1948)

Roark Bradford, novelist, short story writer, and journalist, was born in Lauderdale County, where he was raised on a cotton plantation in the Nankipoo-Knob Creek area. The African Americans who worked the farm and with whom he attended church strongly influenced him. He closely observed their lives and drew on his early experiences to create…

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Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924)

Born in Manchester, England on November 24, 1849, Frances Eliza Hodgson was the eldest daughter in a family of two boys and three girls. After her father’s death when she was three years old, the Hodgsons experienced severe financial difficulties. As a young girl, she would scrawl little stories on sheets of old notebooks, as…

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John William Corrington (1932-1988)

John William Corrington was born in Ohio in 1932; his family moved to Shreveport, Louisiana when he was a young boy. He may have been born in Ohio, and spent some his boyhood years there, but it was Louisiana and, more particularly, Shreveport that Corrington adopted as his spiritual and literary home. It was growing…

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Louise Littleton Davis (1911-1995)

Louise Littleton Davis, historian and journalist, was born in Paris, Tennessee, one of the five children of Grover C., a career United States army officer, and LaRue Littleton Davis, a musician. Although born in Paris, she left the state at an early age. She was educated in the public schools of St. Louis, at Washington…

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