Baldwin, James, 1924-1987

Alternative names
Birth 1924-08-02
Death 1987-12-01

Biographical notes:

James Baldwin, essayist, novelist, and playwright.

From the description of James Baldwin early manuscripts and papers, 1941-1945. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 78269289

From the description of James Baldwin early manuscripts and papers, 1941-1945. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702153739

James Baldwin was a novelist, essayist, short story writer and playwright. Born in Harlem, he provided a literary voice during the period of civil rights activism in the 1950s and 1960s. His first novel, "Go Tell It on the Mountain" (1953) is a partially autobiographical account of his youth. His other novels include "Giovanni's Room" (1956) and "Another Country" (1962), both concerned with homosexuality as a theme. Baldwin's highly personal and analytical essay collections, "Notes of a Native Son" (1955), "Nobody Knows My Name" (1961), and "The Fire Next Time" (1963) probe deeper than the provincial problems of white versus black to uncover the essential issues of self-determination, identity, and reality. His plays "Blues for Mister Charlie," produced in 1964, "Going to Meet the Man" (1965) and "Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone" (1968) also confront American racism. Beginning in 1964, Baldwin made his home primarily in the south of France, but often returned to the United States to lecture or teach. He died in France in 1987.

From the description of James Baldwin letters and manuscripts, ca. 1950-1986. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122346137

Born 2 August 1924 in New York City, novelist, essayist, short story writer, and playwright James Baldwin died of cancer on December 1, 1987.

From the description of Correspondence, 1966-1977. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 82883024

James Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924, in Harlem, New York. The oldest of nine children, he suffered from poverty and a troubled relationship with his strict, religious stepfather. At age 14, Baldwin became a preacher at a small church in Harlem. Baldwin graduated from high school in 1942 and eventually moved to Greenwich Village. His focus shifted from religion to writing, and he became involved with other writers of the time, including Richard Wright. In 1948, fed up with America's racism and homophobia, Baldwin moved to France, where he gained enough distance to write about the America he knew. Baldwin began living part-time in New York in 1957 and became an active participant in the civil rights movement. In the early 1960s, he moved back to the United States and continued to be an important voice for equality and universal brotherhood through his writing and his activism. Baldwin died of stomach cancer on December 1, 1987, in St. Paul de Vence, France.

From the description of Letters to David Moses, 1971-1983. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 181099825


From the description of Letters, 1951-1975. (Indiana University). WorldCat record id: 36929362

From the description of Oral history interview with James Baldwin, 1964. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 309728306

From the description of James Baldwin collection, 1943-1946. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122570770

From the guide to the James Baldwin collection, 1943-1946, (The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.)

James Baldwin was an African-American writer of fiction, essays, novels, autobiography/memoir, plays, and social commentary. He died in Paris on 1 December 1987.

From the description of James Baldwin letter, Istanbul, Turkey, to Kay Boyle, Middletown, Connecticut, 1963 April 8. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 48822630

The life of James Baldwin, novelist, essayist and civil rights advocate, has been described in a number of biographies and critical works, including David Leeming's James Baldwin: A Biography [Viking Penguin, 1994] and James Campbell's Talking at the Gates: A Life of James Baldwin [Faber, 1991 and Viking, 1991]

The provenance of the papers is a matter of some intrigue. The donor, Bart Kaplan, acquired the papers through eminent domain, after his company took possession of a storage building in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, sometime in the early 1960s. The space in which they were stored had apparently once belonged to a publishing company which had left behind a suitcase containing these materials from James Baldwin. The relationship between Baldwin and the publishing company, as well as how a small parcel of his earliest literary effects was left with them, is uncertain. According to several sources, the materials in this archive were known to have been created by Baldwin, but were thought discarded or simply forgotten. In his introduction to New Essays on Go Tell It on the Mountain [Cambridge UP, 1996], Trudier Harris indicates that, following Harper's rejection of a draft section of "In My Father's House" [alternately "Crying Holy"], Baldwin put the manuscript "in a 'duffel bag'" and turned his attention to another project. Other circumstantial evidence - the dating of the first draft of "Crying Holy" to November 1941, while Baldwin was still in high school, and the length of the typescript version (57 pages - a few shy of the 60-page manuscript Richard Wright urged Baldwin to submit to Harper's) - suggests that this recovered cache of material fills in the gap that bibliographers have noted.

From the guide to the James Baldwin early manuscripts and papers, 1941-1945, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)


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  • African American authors--Interviews
  • Authors, American--20th century--Archives
  • African American poets
  • American drama--African American authors
  • African American authors
  • American literature--African American authors
  • American poetry--African American authors
  • African Americans in literature
  • Dramatists, American--20th century
  • African American novelists
  • African American authors--Correspondence
  • American literature--African American authors--20th century
  • African Americans--Civil rights
  • Authors--Interviews
  • Authors, American--20th century--Correspondence
  • African American dramatists


  • Authors


  • Paris, A8, FR
  • Saint-Paul-de-Vence (France), , FR
  • New York City, NY, US
  • Saint-Paul-de-Vence (France), , FR
  • United States (as recorded)