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James Agee was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, on 27th November, 1909. After attending Harvard University he wrote for various magazines including Time, the Nation and the New Masses. A volume of poems, Permit Me Voyage, appeared in 1934.
In 1936 Agee and the photographer, Walker Evans, were commissioned by Fortune Magazine to produce an illustrated article on sharecroppers in Alabama. The article was not published but the material the two men collected appeared in the book, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941). It only sold 600 copies before being remaindered.
During the Second World War he was a book reviewer for Time Magazine. Later he was film critic for The Nation. After the war he worked mainly as a film scriptwriter. This included The African Queen (1951), The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky (1953) and The Night of the Hunter (1955).
James Agee died from a heart-attack in New York City on 16th May, 1955. A novel, A Death in the Family, published posthumously, was adapted for the stage as All the Way Home (1960) and as a film three years later.