by John Ransom
John Crowe Ransom was born on April 30, 1888, in Pulaski, Tennessee, the son of a Methodist minister. He attended Vanderbilt University (BA, 1909); Christ Church College, Oxford (Rhodes Scholar, BA in Lit. Hum., 1913); and the University of Grenoble, briefly, after World War I. Apart from two years in the artillery in the First World War, he taught at Vanderbilt until 1937, and later on the faculties of many schools, including: Kenyon, Peabody, Harvard and the Universities of New Mexico, Florida, Kentucky and Texas. He was also chosen Honorary Consultant of Letters at the Library of Congress. A major critic of American Literature, Ransom helped to found and edit The Fugitive (1922–5), the organ of the highly influential Southern enclave which included Allen Tate and Robert Penn Warren, and contributed to the Southern Agrarian manifesto-anthology, I’ll Take My Stand and To Who Owns America? Founder and editor of The Kenyon Review (1939–58), Ransom had, by 1954, become the acknowledged leader of the Kenyon “New Critics,” elaborating his critical stance in The World’s Body (1938), The New Criticism (New Directions, 1941), Poems and Essays (1955), and Beating the Bushes: Selected Essays 1941–71 (New Directions, 1972). Although probably best known as a critic, Ransom’s poetry later came into greater prominence. In 1951, he received both Bollingen arid Russell Loines Prizes for poetry.