James Agee Manuscript Collection
This collection includes personal and professional material of James Agee's including correspondence, personal papers, literary manuscripts, screenplays, novels, and other publications as well as photographs and cassette readings of his works. The material is arranged into six series by subject. Series I: Correspondence includes letters to and from Agee, letters between James and Mia Fritsch Agee, letters of Mia's, and other various correspondence. Series II: Personal Papers includes receipts, handwritten notes, colored drawings and sketches, story drafts by children, IDs and passports, personal notebooks and journals, newspaper clippings, and personal film material. Series III: Manuscripts, Drafts, and Reviews includes manuscripts and typed and handwritten drafts of Agee's books and plays, as well as reviews he wrote on other works. Series IV: Other Publications largely includes published works including books written by Agee, books with excerpts from Agee, books by Agee with excerpts from others, books about Agee, periodicals featuring Agee, and other various publications. Series V: Audio and Visual contains Agee's photographs and multiple cassette readings of "A Death in the Family" as well as a VHS copy of the James Agee Film Project. Series VI: Oversize includes all oversize material such as diplomas, posters, and maps.
- ca. 1920s-1990s, undated
Most of the materials in this collection are in English. There are some foreign language translations of Agee's works included that are in German, Italian, and French.
Conditions Governing Access
Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.
Conditions Governing Use
The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.
17.75 Linear Feet (19 boxes)
This collection includes personal and professional material of James Agee's including correspondence, personal papers, literary manuscripts, screenplays, novels, and other publications as well as photographs and cassette readings of his works.
James Rufus Agee was born in Knoxville, Tennessee on November 27, 1909 to Hugh James Agee and Laura Whitman Tyler. He had one sister, Emma. Hugh Agee was killed in an automobile accident in 1916. In 1918, Laura relocated the family to Sewanee, Tennessee. James attended the St. Andrew’s School where he met Father James Harold Flye who would become his lifelong close friend and mentor. The Agees returned to Knoxville in 1924, and James attended Knoxville High School for a year, before transferring to Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. He was accepted into Harvard University’s class of 1932.
Upon graduation, Agee wrote for Fortune magazine from 1932-1937, and published his only volume of poetry, Permit Me Voyage, in 1934. In 1941, Agee turned material for a scrapped Fortune article into his first book, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Agee is also credited as a screenwriter on both The African Queen and The Night of the Hunter, both released in 1955. Published posthumously in 1957, A Death in the Family is Agee’s autobiographical novel set in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Agee led a somewhat tumultuous personal life. He was married to Via Saunders from 1933-1938. Later in 1938 he married Alma Mailman, and had a son with her, Joel, before their divorce in 1941. He then married Mia Fritsch in 1946, and they two daughters, Julia and Andrea, and a son, John. Agee died of a heart attack on May 16, 1955. In 1999, the street where Agee was born was renamed to James Agee Street in the Fort Sanders neighborhood of Knoxville.