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Biographies - James Baldwin
James Baldwin
Image Source: Wikipedia
James Baldwin
Born: August 2, 1924
Died: December 1, 1987
African-American novelist, short story writer, and essayist, known for his novel "Go Tell it on the Mountain" which he penned in 1953.


Links: Baldwin's American Masters page
  Baldwin in the Literary Encyclopedia
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Secret_Author James Baldwin: Wonderful Writer!James Baldwin: Wonderful Writer!10/15,10:51AM

James Baldwin was an African-American novelist, short story writer, and essayist, known for his novel "Go Tell it on the Mountain" which he penned in 1953.

Most of Baldwins work deals with racial and sexual issues in the mid-20th century United States. His novels are notable for the personal way in which they explore questions of identity as well as for the way in which they mine complex social and psychological pressures related to being black and homosexual, well before the social, cultural or political equality of these groups could be assumed.

Baldwin was born in New Yorks Harlem neighborhood in 1924, the first of his mothers nine children. He never met his biological father and may never have even known the mans identity. Instead, he considered his stepfather, David Baldwin, his only father figure. David, a factory worker and a store-front preacher, was allegedly very cruel at home, which the young Baldwin hated. While his father opposed his literary aspirations, Baldwin found support from a white teacher as well from the mayor of New York City, Fiorello H. LaGuardia.

His most important source of support, however, came from his idol Richard Wright, whom he called "the greatest black writer in the world for me". Wright and Baldwin became friends for a short time and Wright helped him to secure the Eugene F. Saxon Memorial Award. Indeed, Baldwin titled a collection of essays Notes of a Native Son, in clear reference to Wrights enraged and despairing novel Native Son. However, Baldwins 1949 essay "Everybodys Protest Novel" ended the two authors friendship because Baldwin asserted that Wrights novel Native Son, like Harriet Beecher Stowes Uncle Toms Cabin, lacked credible characters and psychological complexity.

Baldwin, like many American authors of the time, left to live in Europe for an extended period of time beginning in 1948. His first destination was Paris where he followed in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Richard Wright, and many others. When Baldwin returned to America, he became actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement. He marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. to Washington, D.C.

During the early 1980s, Baldwin was on the faculty of the Five Colleges in Western Massachusetts. While there, he mentored Mount Holyoke College undergrad Suzan-Lori Parks, who works on Broadway and is famous for her plays, roles and other work she has done in her career. Baldwin died of cancer in 1987 at the age of 63.

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