December 09, 2003

For James Baldwin

James Arthur Baldwin
Born August 2, 1924 in Harlem, NY,
Died December 1 1987, St. Paul-de-Vence, France

The first of nine children of Berdis (Jones) a clergyman and a factory worker, David (step-father), in Harlem, NY. Baldwin was a storefront preacher for three years starting at age 14. His writing started as a way to escape his stern stepfather. He attended Frederick Douglass Junior High School and DeWitt Clinton High School

He graduated from high school in 1942 and moved to New Jersey to begin working as a railroad hand. In 1944 he moved to Greenwich Village where he met Richard Wright and began his first novel, In My Father's House. In 1953 he finished his important novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain which stands as a partially autobiographical account of his youth. The following year he wrote the play, The Amen Corner and won the Guggenheim Fellowship.

During the 1960's Baldwin returned to the United States and became politically active in support of civil rights.

Baldwin wrote novels, poetry, essays and a screenplay in the later years of his life. He died of stomach cancer at his home in St. Paul de Vence, France.

* updated with related links:

I meant to post this on the anniversary of Baldwin's passing. After I complete my next book, I plan to re-read Go Tell It on the Mountain, then a related essay collection. Of course, no reading of Baldwin would be complete without the superb and still relevant The Fire Next Time.

Posted by ronn at December 9, 2003 03:00 AM


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Tracked on December 19, 2003 11:41 AM

do you read one book a day? wow. i'm struggling to keep up. Posted by: ej on December 9, 2003 10:42 AM
My favorite writer. The one who realy gets me into reading. "The Fire Next Time" is one of my favorite... Funny how could I could never get into "Go Tell It on The Mountain" when that book has long considered to be his signature work... Thank you for keeping Baldwin's genius alive... peace, philippe Posted by: pyoruba on December 9, 2003 07:15 PM
I don't read a book a day... anymore. I can't believe I forgot to post on the anniversary of Baldwin's passing. He is, without a doubt, one of my favorite writers in terms of fiction, and most definitely of the essay form. Posted by: ronn on December 9, 2003 09:45 PM