John Crowe Ransom Collection
Largely consists of correspondence between Ransom and Robert Duncan dicussing the subject of homosexuality and poetry.
- Ransom, John Crowe, 1888-1974 (Person)
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Conditions Governing Use
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John Crowe Ransom (April 30, 1888 – July 3, 1974) was an American poet, essayist, magazine editor, and professor. Born in Pulaski, Tennessee, Ransom was home schooled until age ten, and entered Vanderbilt University at fifteen, graduating first in his class in 1909. He interrupted his studies for two years to teach sixth and seventh grades in Taylorsville, Mississippi and Latin and Greek in Lewisburg, Tennessee. After teaching one more year in Lewisburg, Ransom was selected as a Rhodes Scholar. He attended Oxford University's Christ Church, 1910–13. After one year teaching Latin in the Hotchkiss School, Ransom was appointed to the English department at Vanderbilt University in 1914. During the First World War, he served as an artillery officer in France. After the war, he returned to Vanderbilt. In 1937, Ransom accepted a position at Kenyon College in Ohio. He was the founding editor of the Kenyon Review, and continued as editor until his retirement in 1959. In 1966, Ransom was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
At Vanderbilt, Ransom was a founding member of the Fugitives, a Southern literary group of 16 writers that functioned primarily as a kind of poetry workshop and included Donald Davidson, Allen Tate, and Robert Penn Warren. Under their influence, Ransom, whose first interest had been philosophy, began writing poetry. The Fugitive Group had a special interest in Modernist poetry and, under Ransom's editorship, started a short-lived but highly influential magazine, called The Fugitive, which published American Modernist poets, mainly from the South.
Ransom's literary reputation is based chiefly on two collections of poetry, Chills and Fever (1924) and Two Gentlemen in Bonds (1927). Ransom primarily wrote short poems examining the ironic and unsentimental nature of life (with domestic life in the American South being a major theme). Believing he had no new themes upon which to write, his subsequent poetic activity consisted almost entirely of revising his earlier poems. Despite the brevity of his poetic career and output, Ransom won the Bollingen Prize for Poetry in 1951. His 1963 Selected Poems received the National Book Award the following year.
Ransom was a leading figure of the school of literary criticism known as the New Criticism, which gained its name from his 1941 volume of essays The New Criticism. The New Critical theory, which dominated American literary thought throughout the middle 20th century, emphasized close reading, and criticism based on the texts themselves rather than on non-textual bias or non-textual history. Ransom remained an active essayist until his death even though, by the 1970's, the popularity and influence of the New Critics had seriously diminished.
Method of Acquisition
Accession number 889. Purchase from C.A. Stonehill, January 19, 1968. (Ransom-Duncan correspondence)
Accession number 949. Gift of Henry Wenning, July 25, 1968. (ALS from Duncan to Wenning)
Accession number 1533. Purchase from Serendipity Books, September 29, 1981. (TLS from Duncan to Leite)
Accession number 1924. Gift of Washington University's Department of English, August 7, 1991 (ALS from Ransom to Bloodworth)
Processed August 1969
- John Crowe Ransom Collection
- Description rules
- Language of description
- 2021 March 18: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.
Collecting Area Details
Part of the Manuscripts Collecting Area
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
St. Louis MO 63130 US