CAROLINE GORDON was born on October 6, 1895, on a tobacco farm in Todd County, Kentucky.Her early education at a boys' school run by her father led to a lifelong interest in classical literature. After taking a bachelor's degree at Bethany College, West Virginia, in 1916, she taught at a high school and in 1920 became a journalist. In 1924, she met the poet Allen Tate, whom she married later that year. After moving to New York City, she became secretary to Ford Madox Ford, who encouraged and criticized her writing. In 1928, Tate won a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the couple traveled to Paris, where they met Gertrude Stein, the Fitzgeralds, and Ernest Hemingway. Returning to America in 1930, Gordon and Tate settled on Benfolly Farm in Tennessee, where Gordon completed her first novel, Penhally, in 1931. She would be influenced in her work by Gustave Flaubert and Henry James and by the symbolic naturalism of Dante, Carl Jung, James Joyce, and T. S. Eliot.
After winning a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1932, Gordon returned to France with her husband and worked on a second novel, Aleck Maury, Sportsman, which appeared in 1934. By this time the couple was back at Benfolly and active in the Agrarian movement. Two further novels date from this period, None Shall Look Back and The Garden of Adonis, as well as the short story " The Brilliant Leaves." In 1938, Gordon was writer-in-residence at Greensboro College in North Carolina, and she then moved to Princeton when her husband took a teaching position there. In 1944, she published The Women on the Porch, and the next year a collection of stories, The Forest of the South, was published, bringing together the bulk of the stories Gordon had written since 1929. Many of these later appeared, with "The Petrified Woman" ( 1947), "The Presence" ( 1948), "Emmanuelel Emmanuelel" ( 1954), and "One Against Thebes" ( 1961), in Old Red and Other Stories ( 1963).
Gordon converted to Roman Catholicism in 1947, and her religion became an important influence on her subsequent work. While her earlier writing had explored the struggle to achieve a private dignity, her novels The Strange Children ( 1951) and The Malefactors ( 1956) and her story "Emmanuele! Emmanuelel" ( 1954) developed the idea of giving oneself to the Church to achieve fulfillment. From this time