Alfred Joyce Kilmer was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on December 6, 1886. The son of Annie Kilburn and Frederick Kilmer. Joyce Kilmer graduated from Rutgers College in 1904 and recieved an A.B. from Columbia in 1906.
Before Kilmer gained fame as a writer and poet, he worked briefly as a salesman for Charles Scriber's Sons, and as an editorial assistant for Standard Dictionary. Preoccupied with teh idea of beloning to the 'intellectual aristrocacy,' Kilmer became known early in his life as a 'young radical' and something of a socialist.