This Goodly Land

Madison Jones (March 21, 1925–present)

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Biographical Information

Madison Jones was born in Nashville, Tenn. When he was six, his family moved in with his maternal grandparents in Belle Meade, a Nashville suburb. He grew up listening to Bible stories, Civil War reminiscences, and folk tales. When he was thirteen, his father bought a farm north of Nashville, and Jones spent his summers working there. After finishing high school, he began attending Vanderbilt University but quit to work on the farm. He was drafted and served in the U.S. Army Corps of Military Police from 1944 to 1946. After his discharge, Jones returned to Vanderbilt, where he became interested in writing and studied under Donald Davidson, earning his AB in 1949. After graduation, he returned to the farm to decide what he should do next. His family disapproved of writing as a career and he loved farming and the outdoors, but, after nearly a year, he decided to continue his education.

Jones studied under Andrew Lytle at the University of Florida, earning his MA in 1951. He completed coursework for a doctorate but left without completing his dissertation. Jones taught at Miami University of Ohio from 1953 to 1954. A Sewanee Review fellowship in 1954 enabled him to write his first novel, The Innocent, published in 1957. Jones taught writing at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville from 1955 to 1956, then joined the English department of Auburn University where he remained until his retirement in 1987. He was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship in 1968 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1973. His novel An Exile was made into the movie I Walk the Line in 1970. Jones continues to live in Auburn, Ala., and has a small farm outside the city.

Interests and Themes

Madison Jones is a writer who emerged from the Agrarian tradition in Southern literature. Many of his novels contain Biblical and classical imagery and focus on Calvinistic morality, depicting the loss of innocence to sin, the suffering that results, and redemption by confession and penance.

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Photo by Katie Lamar Jackson; courtesy of the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts, Auburn University.

Last updated on May 30, 2008.

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