James E. Person Jr.

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James E. Person Jr. is a writer, editor, and lecturer who has been involved with the activities of the Kirk Center since its founding in 1995. He was named a Senior Fellow in 2011.

A graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Denver Publishing Institute, Mr. Person has worked in publishing for over thirty years. He has edited and written for many literary, historical, and biographical reference works, including Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Contemporary Authors, Short Story Criticism, Rock: The Essential Album Guide, Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800, What Do I Read Next? and many other titles, including American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia. Mr. Person is also a freelance writer who has published over 200 essays, articles, and book reviews in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Modern Age, the Detroit News, National Review, the Washington Times, the University Bookman, Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, Crisis, the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, the Raleigh News & Observer, and other venues. He contributes a column to the University Bookman titled “The Classics Revisited.”

Mr. Person was a friend of Russell Kirk and has written and spoken extensively on his life and work. His lectures, delivered at the Kirk Center, Young America’s Foundation’s Reagan Ranch Center, and elsewhere, include such topics as “Russell Kirk’s The American Cause, Then and Now,” “‘To Renew and Rebuild Civilization’: An Introduction to T. S. Eliot and His Significance,” “A Cook’s Tour of The Conservative Mind,” “‘For Such a Time as This’: Russell Kirk and the Uses of History,” and “‘The Ancient and Honorable Pastime of Snapdragon’: An Introduction to the Fiction of Russell Kirk.”

Mr. Person produced the first two books on the distinguished man of letters: The Unbought Grace of Life: Essays in Honor of Russell Kirk (1994) and Russell Kirk: A Critical Biography of a Conservative Mind (1999). At present, he is researching, compiling, and editing “The Selected Letters of Russell Kirk.” In addition, the final stages of editorial work are being completed on a compendium titled “The Quotable Kirk.”

A native of Virginia, Mr. Person is a specialist on the literature and history of the American South, and is honored to be a friend and biographer of the Virginian writer Earl Hamner, author of Spencer’s Mountain and The Homecoming, as well as the creator of the beloved long-running television series The Waltons. (Mr. Person’s well-received biography Earl Hamner: From Walton’s Mountain to Tomorrow appeared in 2005.)

He lives in Northville, Michigan, with his wife Lista. They have two grown children, David and Rebekah.

The moral imagination is the principal possession that man does not share with the beasts. It is man’s power to perceive ethical truth, abiding law, in the seeming chaos of many events. Without the moral imagination, man would live merely day to day, or rather moment to moment, as dogs do. It is the strange faculty—inexplicable if men are assumed to have an animal nature only—of discerning greatness, justice, and order, beyond the bars of appetite and self-interest.

Russell Kirk, Enemies of the Permanent Things, 1969

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Highlights

Our Second Bookman e-Book!

We are pleased to announce the release of The University Bookman on Edmund Burke, now available for Kindle. Collecting 21 reviews, essays, and interviews from the Bookman on the life and thought of Edmund Burke, this book is only $2.99, and purchases support our ongoing work to provide an imaginative defense of the Permanent Things.

Mar 2015

Fall Permanent Things

The Fall 2014 number of our Permanent Things newsletter is now posted, featuring updates on “Arguing Conservatism,” an ISI honors seminar on rhetoric held at Piety Hill. You can download a copy of the PDF from this link.

Jan 2015

Kirk in the Clarion Review

Russell Kirk’s autobiographical essay, “Is Life Worth Living” is featured in The Clarion Review this month.

Dec 2014