Celebrate the Centennial of James Agee’s "Knoxville: Summer of 1915" on June 21

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Celebrate the Centennial of James Agee’s "Knoxville: Summer of 1915" on June 21

Posted: 06/09/2015
“We are talking now of summer evenings in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the time I lived there so successfully disguised to myself as a child.” Thus begins the famous short piece entitled “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” by James Agee. This year marks the centennial of his reminisced summer of 1915. Knox County Public Library and the City of Knoxville invite the public to celebrate Agee’s famous prelude from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 21 in James Agee Park with an ice cream social, music of the era led by Nancy Brennan Strange, and a public reading of the piece by R.B. Morris.  The park is located at the corner of 331 James Agee Street and Laurel Avenue in the heart of Fort Sanders neighborhood.  Attendees should bring lawn chairs or quilts for the program.  The event is free, and parking is available on the streets in Fort Sanders. 

The Library is also honoring the centennial by publishing "Knoxville: Summer of 1915" notecards featuring photographs of the Agee family and scenes of Knoxville in that timeframe. The cards will be given as a reward to participants in the Adult Reading Challenge for reading 4 books over the course of the summer. Other events celebrating "Knoxville: Summer of 1915" are being planned and will be announced soon. 

In 1935, James Agee wrote his improvisational piece reflecting on the summer evenings of his boyhood. It was originally published in 1938 in the Partisan Review and was later attached as a prelude to his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, A Death in the Family.  In 1948, Metropolitan Opera star, Eleanor Steber, commissioned Samuel Barber to put excerpts of the piece to music, which she debuted with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Serge Koussevitzky. 

Agee was born in Knoxville, TN in 1909, where he lived as a young boy in the Fort Sanders neighborhood. His childhood unraveled in 1916 when his father was killed in an automobile accident. He recounted the events surrounding his father's accident in his book, A Death in the Family, which was published posthumously and earned the Pulitzer Prize.   Other works by Agee include a collabaration with Walker Evans entitled "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men",  screenplays for "The African Queen" and "The Night of the Hunter," and his  film criticism. 

More about the Knox County Public Library at http://www.knoxlib.org.