Himes, Chester B., 1909-1984

Chester Bomar Himes was born in Jefferson City, Missouri on July 29, 1909 to Estelle Bomar Himes and Joseph Sandy Himes. In 1926 he enrolled at Ohio State University to study medicine, but was expelled in 1928 and shortly afterward was arrested, convicted for armed robbery, and sentenced to a twenty-five year term in prison. Himes served only part of that sentence, from 1928 to 1936, at the Ohio State Penetentiary in Columbus, during which time he became a published and somewhat well-known writer. Inspired to begin writing by a 1930 prison fire in which 300 inmates were killed, while in prison he published a number of articles and short stories in newspapers and magazines, most notably in Esquire. Released from prison, he married Jean Lucinda Johnson in 1937, and from 1938 to 1941 he worked for the Cleveland Daily News and the Ohio Writers' Project, for which he wrote a history of Cleveland for the WPA Guide Series. Himes moved to California in 1941, where with the help of a Rosenwald Fellowship he completed his first novel, If He Hollers Let Him Go (1945). Himes moved to Paris in the early 1950s, and wrote the first book of his hard-boiled detective fiction series, For Love of Imabelle (1957), which features two African American detectives from Harlem, Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones. Himes spent the rest of his days living and writing in Europe, including stints in France, Germany and England, but primarily in Moraira on the southern coast of Spain with his second wife, Lesley Packard Himes. He published many other works, including a two-volume autobiography. He died in Moraira, Spain, on November 12, 1984.

From the description of Chester Himes papers, 1936-1980. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702193114

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