Madison Percy Jones, Jr., was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 21, 1925, the son of a well-to-do businessman and Mary Temple (Webber) Jones. Madison was raised as a Presbyterian, absorbing an uncompromising moral outlook that dominates his works. Like most “Old South” families, the Joneses sent their son to private high schools so that he would receive a classical education. When Madison was thirteen, his father bought a farm in Cheatham County, north of Nashville, and as a teenager, Jones spent much of his time there, learning to farm and to train Tennessee walking horses.
After high school, Jones enrolled in Vanderbilt University, but he dropped out after three semesters and spent eighteen months working on the farm. He then returned to Vanderbilt for three more semesters before he was drafted in 1945 and sent to Korea, where he served in the military police for two years. When he returned to Vanderbilt, Jones took creative writing courses with the famous Agrarian writer and critic Donald Davidson. Although Davidson liked his writing, Jones returned to the farm for a year after receiving his B.A. in 1949 and seriously considered becoming a farmer.
Having decided to continue with his writing, he went to the University of Florida to study with Andrew Lytle, another prominent Agrarian. In 1951 he received his M.A. That same year, he married Shailah McEvilley. They would have five children. Jones continued his graduate study at the university for two more years, completing all the requirements for a Ph.D. except for writing a dissertation. In 1953 he left to write a novel. That fall he began...
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