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James Agee Photograph by Walker Evans, 1937. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103100).


Agee, James Rufus (27 November 1909–16 May 1955), writer, was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of Hugh James Agee, a construction company employee, and Laura Whitman Tyler. The father’s family were poorly educated mountain farmers, while the mother’s were solidly middle class. Agee was profoundly affected by his father’s death in a car accident in 1916. He idealized his absent father and struggled against his mother and her genteel and (he felt) cold values. “Agee’s mother wanted him to be clean, chaste, and sober,” the photographer ...


Kael, Pauline (19 June 1919–3 Sept. 2001), film critic, was the last of five children born to a chicken farmer of Russian Jewish extraction, Isaac Kael, and his wife, the former Judith Friedman, in Petaluma, California. When her family lost the farm when she was eight, they moved to San Francisco. She graduated from San Francisco Girls’ High School in ...