Tuesday, November 19, 2019

A Bibliography of Black Writer Biographies

Although this list, like so many of my lists, is ongoing, I first began working on it on October 1, 2004. That's when I attended a lecture at the University of Kansas by Jean Fagan Yellin discussing her biography of Harriet Jacobs. More importantly, the lecture was hosted by Maryemma Graham's Project on the History of Black Writing, an important source of my bibliographic projects. That lecture was also where I first met Joycelyn Moody, and among other topics, she and I began discussing biographies of black writers.

[Related: 50 Black Autobiographies and Memoirs, 1845 - 2019]

What follows is a list of some of the biographies that have come up in my discussions of African American literary studies.

• 1899: Frederick Douglass by Charles Chesnutt
• 1948: Frederick Douglass by Benjamin Quarles
• 1950: The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass by Philip S. Foner
• 1968: Richard Wright: A Biography by Constance Webb
• 1970: The Most Native of Sons: A Biography of Richard Wright by John A. Williams
• 1971: Oak and Ivy: A Biography of Paul Laurence Dunbar by Addison Gayle
• 1973: The Unfinished Quest of Richard Wright by Michel Fabre
• 1977: Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Biography by Robert Hemenway
• 1980: Slave and Citizen: The Life of Frederick Douglass by Nathan Irvin Huggins and Oscar Handlin
• 1980: Richard Wright: Ordeal of a Native Son by Addison Gayle
• 1984: Jean Toomer, Artist: A Study of His Literary Life and Work, 1894-1936 by Nellie Y. McKay
• 1984: From the Auroral Darkness: The Life and Poetry of Robert Hayden by John Hatcher
• 1986: The Life of Langston Hughes: Volume I: 1902-1941: I, Too, Sing America by Arnold Rampersad
• 1987: Claude McKay: Rebel Sojourner in the Harlem Renaissance by Wayne F. Cooper
• 1988: Richard Wright, Daemonic Genius: A Portrait of the Man by Margaret Walker
• 1988: The Life of Langston Hughes: Volume II: 1941-1967: I Dream a World by Arnold Rampersad
• 1990: A Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by George E. Kent
• 1991: Frederick Douglass by William McFeely
• 1991: Richard Wright's Art of Tragedy by Joyce Ann Joyce
• 1992: Claude McKay: A Black Poet's Struggle for Identity by Tyrone Tillery
• 1992: Nikki Giovanni by Virginia C. Fowler
• 1993: W. E. B. Du Bois, 1868-1919: Biography of a Race by David Levering Lewis
• 1994: James Baldwin: A Biography by David A. Leeming
• 1998: Dudley Randall, Broadside Press, and the Black Arts Movement in Detroit, 1960-1995 by Julius E. Thompson
• 2000: W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century 1919-1963 by David Levering Lewis
• 2000: Chester Himes: A Life by James Sallis
• 2001: Frantz Fanon: A Biography by David Macey
• 2001: Richard Wright: The Life and Times by Hazel Rowley
• 2002: Ralph Ellison: Emergence of Genius by Lawrence P. Jackson
• 2002: Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston by Valerie Boyd
• 2003: Harriet Jacobs: A Life by Jean Yellin
• 2004: Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde by Alexis De Veaux
• 2004: Wrestling with the Muse: Dudley Randall and the Broadside Press by Melba Joyce Boyd
• 2004: Wild Blessings: The Poetry of Lucille Clifton by Hilary Holladay
• 2004: Alice Walker: A Life by Evelyn C. White
• 2006: Claude Mckay: The Literary Identity from Jamaica to Harlem And Beyond by Kotti Sree Ramesh and Kandula Nirupa Rani
• 2007: Ralph Ellison: A Biography by Arnold Rampersad
• 2008: Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching by Paula J. Giddings
• 2009: To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells by Mia Bay
• 2010: John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
• 2011: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
• 2012: And Bid Him Sing: A Biography of Countée Cullen by Charles Molesworth
• 2013: Nikki Giovanni: A Literary Biography by Virginia C. Fowler
• 2014: Visible Man: The Life of Henry Dumas by Jeffrey B. Leak
• 2016: The Lives of Frederick Douglass by Robert S. Levine
• 2017: Chester B. Himes: A Biography by Lawrence P. Jackson
• 2017: A Surprised Queenhood in the New Black Sun: The Life & Legacy of Gwendolyn Brooks by Angela Jackson
• 2018: The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke by Jeffrey C. Stewart
• 2018: Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight
• 2018: Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry by Imani Perry

A checklist of book lists

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