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African American Biography: African American Writers - Biography

Biographical Information - African American Writers

  • Maya Angelou (1928- ): Topic Page
    U.S. Black novelist, poet, and dramatist. Her works include the autobiographical novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970) and its sequels, the collection of poetry I Shall Not be Moved (1990), and Phenomenal Woman (1995).
  • James Baldwin (1924-1987): Topic Page
     Writer, born in Harlem, New York, USA. The son of a preacher, as a teenager he preached in a Harlem pentecostal church.
  • Ralph Ellison (1914-1994): Topic Page
    US novelist. His Invisible Man (1952) portrays with humour and energy the plight of a black man whom post-war US society cannot acknowledge.
  • Olaudah Equiano (c.1745-1797): Topic Page
    Although Equiano wasn’t the first African-born former slave to tell his life experiences of enslavement and emancipation, he was the first to write his life story himself, without help or direction from white ghostwriters, amanuenses, or editors.
  • Alex Haley (1921-1992): Topic Page
     American writer best known for Roots (1976), a fictionalized chronicle tracing his family history back to its African origins.
  • Lorraine Hansberry: Topic Page
    Lorraine Hansberry’s writing was profoundly influenced by her family elders. Her uncle Leo Hansberry was a scholar of African history at Howard University, so Lorraine learned from an early age to link the experiences and challenges of African Americans with those of Africans struggling for liberation in their native land.
  • Langston Hughes (1902-1967): Topic Page
    American writer. Through his poetry, prose, and drama he made important contributions to the Harlem Renaissance. His best-known works include Weary Blues (1926) and The Ways of White Folks (1934).
  • Jamaica Kincaid (1949- ): Topic Page
    Born and raised in the West Indies British colony of Antigua, young Elaine—a prolific reader—was taught that all the greatest literature had been written in Britain prior to 1900. Although she had won scholarships to colonial schools in Antigua, at age 16 Elaine fled to New York City to be an au pair, earning her room and board by doing domestic work for a white family.
  • Toni Morrison (1931- ): Topic Page
    American writer who won the 1993 Nobel Prize for literature. Her novels, such as Sula (1973) and Beloved (1987), examine the experiences of African Americans
  • Alice Walker (1944- ): Topic Page
    American writer whose works include the novels Meridian (1976) and The Color Purple (1982), for which she won a Pulitzer Prize.
  • Phillis Wheatley (c.1753-1784): Topic Page
    One of the earliest known African-American writers and the first to publish a book of poetry, former slave Phillis Wheatley has nevertheless been both revered and ignored by the African-American community
  • Richard Wright (1908-1960): Topic Page
    American author whose writing explores the oppression suffered by African Americans. His works include the novel Native Son (1940) and the autobiography

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