Born in Pennsylvania, the son of a Presbyterian minister and Old Testament scholar, Jefferson attended school in Germany and Switzerland. After moving with his family to California in 1903, he graduated from Occidental College and also studied at the University of Southern California, the University of Zurich, and the University of Washington. Finally, after years of traveling, Jeffers settled with his wife on a wild, sea-beaten cliff at Carmel, California, in what was virtually a literary hermitage. There he set down the tragic folktales of northern California in ironic epic. Jeffers was a poet concerned with cruelty and horror, whose dramatic narratives are filled with scenes of blood and lust, and whose verse shows vigorous beauty and great originality. He was a poet who is not easily contained within the regular framework of literary history.