This Goodly Land

Andrew Lytle (December 26, 1902–December 13, 1995)

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Biographical Information

Andrew Lytle was born in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Although he spent most of his boyhood there, he also spent time in the Guntersville, Ala., area with his father who was a lumberman and a farmer. After graduating from Sewanee Military Academy, Lytle spent a year in France, then returned to the US and enrolled at Vanderbilt University. He graduated with a BA in 1925 and spent the following year in Alabama, first running a sawmill near Huntsville, then working on his father’s farm near Guntersville, called "Cornsilk." In the fall of 1926, Lytle went to New Haven, Conn., to study drama at Yale University. Lytle returned to Tennessee in 1929 and began working on a biography of Nathan Bedford Forrest (published in 1931). His essay "The Hind Tit" was published in I’ll Take My Stand, the 1930 Agrarian anthology. Lytle moved back to Cornsilk in 1931 to farm and to write fiction. His first short story, "Old Scratch in the Valley," was published in 1932 in The Virginia Quarterly Review. The Long Night, his first novel, was published in 1936. Lytle married in 1938, and he and his wife moved to Monteagle, Tenn. They moved again to Sewanee, Tenn., when Lytle began teaching history at the University of the South (now Sewanee: The University of the South). The couple also bought a farm near Nashville and worked there on weekends.

Lytle received two Guggenheim fellowships in fiction writing in 1940 and 1941. The resulting book, At the Moon’s End, was published in 1941. He served as acting editor of The Sewanee Review from 1942 to 1944. Lytle and his family left Sewanee and moved to the farm in 1944. After a few years, he found that farming took too much time away from his writing. In the spring of 1947, Lytle joined the faculty of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His third novel was published that year. In the fall of 1948, Lytle became a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He published The Velvet Horn in 1957 and a collection of stories in 1958. In 1960, Lytle’s wife became seriously ill, and the family moved back to Monteagle. Shortly thereafter, Lytle began teaching creative writing at the University of the South and assumed the editorship of The Sewanee Review. He continued teaching, writing essays, and editing the Review until 1973. Several collections of his essays have been published. In 1975, Lytle published his memoir, A Wake for the Living. He was a founding member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers in 1987. Lytle died at his cabin in Monteagle in 1995.

Interests and Themes

Andrew Lytle, a member of the group of writers called the Agrarians, wrote fiction, essays, a memoir, and a biography of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest. Most of his fiction is set in the Southern United States. At the Moon’s Inn is a fictional version of Hernando de Soto’s expedition through the American Southeast.

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Last updated on Oct 16, 2009.

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