Born April 30, 1888, in Pulaski, Tennessee, John Crowe Ransom was the third child of John James Ransom and Ella Crowe. From his mother, an English teacher, he absorbed an interest in ballads and myth, especially the Cavalier myth. From his father, a Methodist minister and district superintendent, he inherited a love of poetry, eloquence with language, lifelong interest in metaphysical questions, and facility in languages.
Admitted to Vanderbilt University at age fifteen, Ransom chose a course of study emphasizing Latin and Greek classics, philosophy, and history. After his graduation in 1909, Vanderbilt professors nominated him for a Rhodes Scholarship, and in 1910, he entered Oxford University, choosing again to focus on philosophy and the classics. His three years there reinforced his classicism, and discussions with fellow Rhodes Scholars increased his interest in British and American literature.
In 1914, Ransom returned to Vanderbilt as a member of the English faculty, leaving briefly to serve in World War I. Again returning to Vanderbilt, he joined a group of young intellectuals who met weekly to discuss philosophy and poetry. Soon this group began critiquing one another’s poetry, eventually publishing The Fugitive (1922-1925), a journal devoted to poetry, criticism, and poetic theory. The Fugitive was widely read and highly respected in literary circles.
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