Andrew Nelson Lytle

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Andrew Nelson Lytle
Born(1902-12-26)December 26, 1902
Murfreesboro, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedDecember 12, 1995(1995-12-12) (aged 92)
Monteagle, Tennessee, U.S.
ResidenceCornsilk, Cross Plains, Tennessee, U.S.
EducationVanderbilt University (BA)
Yale University (MFA)
Scientific career
InstitutionsSewanee: The University of the South
University of Florida

Andrew Nelson Lytle (December 26, 1902 – December 12, 1995) was an American novelist, dramatist, essayist and professor of literature.

Early life[edit]

Andrew Nelson Lytle was born on December 26, 1902 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.[1] He graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1925.[1]


Lytle's first literary success came as a result of his association with the Southern Agrarians, a movement whose members included poets Robert Penn Warren and Allen Tate, whom Lytle knew from Vanderbilt University. The group of poets, novelists and writers published the 1930s I'll Take My Stand, which expressed their philosophy. The work was attacked by contemporaries and current scholars believe it to be a reactionary and romanticized defense of the Old South and the Lost Cause of the Confederacy.[2] It ignored slavery and denounced "progress", for example, and some critics considered it to be moved by nostalgia

In 1948, Lytle helped start the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Florida.[3]

Lytle first published a biography of Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Confederate general of the American Civil War: Bedford Forrest and his Critter Company (1931). Lytle went on to write more than a dozen books, including novels, collected short stories, and collections of essays on literary and cultural topics.

Most critics[4] consider The Velvet Horn (1957) to be Lytle's best work. It was nominated for the National Book Award for fiction. His 1973 memoir, A Wake For The Living, is a tour-de-force in Southern storytelling, combining a deep religious sensibility, an expansive view of history that links events across decades and even centuries, and—sometimes—bawdy family tales.[citation needed]

Lytle served as editor of the Sewanee Review from 1961 to 1973 while he was a professor at the University of the South. During Lytle's tenure, the Review became one of the nation's most prestigious literary magazines. Lytle was an early champion of Flannery O'Connor's work. Lytle encouraged many writers, including Allen Tate and Robert Penn Warren, but also Elizabeth Bishop, Caroline Gordon, and Robert Lowell. His insightful criticism often improved their work.

Lytle taught literature and creative writing at the University of Florida, where he had Merrill Joan Gerber and Harry Crews as students.

Though Lytle retired from the University of the South in 1973, he never fully retired from either writing or teaching. In the last years of his life, he had what he called the "great pleasure" of seeing most of his earlier books come back into print. Several university presses published collections of his stories and essays.

Personal life and death[edit]

Lytle was the owner of Cornsilk, a historic house in Cross Plains, Tennessee in the 1940s.[5]

Lytle died on December 13, 1995 in Monteagle, Tennessee.[1] Lytle was buried at the University of the South Cemetery, Sewanee, TN.[6]

Lytle Street in Murfreesboro, Tennessee is from his namesake.


  • Bedford Forrest and His Critter Company (1931)
  • The Long Night (1936)
  • At the Moon's Inn (1941)
  • A Name for Evil (1947)
  • The Velvet Horn (1957)
  • A Novel, a Novella, and Four Stories (1958)
  • The Hero with the Private Parts: Essays (1966)
  • Craft and Vision: The Best Fiction from the Sewanee Review (1971) (edited)
  • A Wake for the Living: A Family Chronicle (1975)
  • The Lytle-Tate Letters: The Correspondence of Andrew Lytle and Allen Tate (1987) (edited by Thomas Daniel Young and Elizabeth Sarcone)
  • Southerners and Europeans: Essays in a Time of Disorder (1988)
  • From Eden to Babylon: The Social and Political Essays of Andrew Nelson Lytle (1990) (edited by M. E. Bradford)
  • Kristin: A Reading (1992)


  1. ^ a b c Meacham, Jon. "Andrew Nelson Lytle". The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Tennessee Historical Society and the University of Tennessee Press. Retrieved August 28, 2016.
  2. ^ Rubin, Louis (1962), "Introduction", I'll take my stand: the South and the agrarian tradition, p. xxiii
  3. ^ "Our Program". University of Florida. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  4. ^ Among others, see Robie Macauley, "Big Novel: The Velvet Horn by Andrew Lytle." The Kenyon Review, 19(4):644-646. Macauley says, "It is a novel of unique setting and feeling, and of intricate artful telling. Without the least bit of cant, it arrives at a hopeful and positive conclusion. In short, it should assure Mr. Lytle of his rightful place among the first rank of American novelists practising today."
  5. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Inventory--Nomination Form: Cornsilk". National Park Service. United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  6. ^ Andrew Nelson Lytle 1902-1995

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