Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917-2000

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African American poet and novelist, who was an important figure in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

From the description of Of Robert Frost / Gwendolyn Brooks. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79334638

Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas, on June 17, 1917 and moved shortly after her birth to Chicago's South Side, where she lived until her death. She authored more than twenty books of poetry, beginning with A Street in Bronzeville (1945), followed by Annie Allen (1949), for which she received the Pulitzer Prize in 1950, the first Pulitzer awarded to an African American woman. In 1986 she was named poetry consultant to the Library of Congress, and she succeeded Carl Sandburg in 1968 as Poet Laureate of Illinois. She also wrote a novel, an autobiography, and critical prose. Brooks taught at Columbia College (Chicago), Northeastern Illinois University, Columbia University, and the University of Wisconsin, among others. Brooks died December 3, 2000, in Chicago, Ill.

From the description of Gwendolyn Brooks papers, 1917-2000 (bulk 1950-1989). (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 82899670

A native of Kansas who was raised in and resided in Chicago as an adult, Brooks wrote more than twenty books of poetry, won a Pulitzer Prize, and was poet laureate of Illinois beginning in 1968.

From the description of Papers, 1965. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 77514481

African-American poet, novelist and lecturer.

From the description of Gwendolyn Brooks collection, 1959-1967. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122580007

From the guide to the Gwendolyn Brooks collection, 1959-1967, (The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.)

Biographical Information

At the age of thirty-three, Gwendolyn Brooks became the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Her legacy as one of the most influential poets of the Twentieth Century endures. Richard Wright, an early advocate of Brooks, once said that her poetry captured "the pathos of petty destinies, the whimper of the wounded, the tiny incidents that plague the lives of the desperately poor, and the problems of common prejudice" (Watkins, 2000, The New York Times ).

Brooks was born on June 7, 1917 in Topeka Kansas. Shortly after her birth, Brooks's parents, David and Keziah Brooks, relocated the family to South Side Chicago. She remained in South Side until her death. At a very early age, Brooks began to write poetry. When she was thirteen years old her first poem was published in the American Childhood Magazine . At a crucial point in her creative development, Brooks met Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson, both of whom encouraged her poetry writing. She was educated at several white, black, and integrated high schools in Chicago. During her school years, Brooks prolifically published her poems, largely as a regular contributor to the "Lights and Shadows" poetry column of the Chicago Defender . In 1936, Brooks graduated from Wilson Junior College.

In 1938, Brooks and Henry Blakely were married. Their first child, Henry Jr., was born in 1940 and their daughter Nora was born in 1951. During this period, Brooks began to win critical acclaim for her poetry. She won the 1943 Midwestern Writer's Conference Poetry Award. Shortly thereafter, A Street in Bronzeville, her first book of poetry, was published by Harper and Row (1945). The instant critical acclaim this book received was followed by her first Guggenheim Fellowship award and a nomination to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1950, her second published collection, Annie Allen, won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

Brooks went on to publish additional books of poetry, a novel, an autobiography, essays, reviews, speeches, and a play. Following her Pulitzer Prize, she issued Maud Martha (1953), a novel that was praised by reviewers but did not gain wide readership. Bronzeville Boys and Girls (1956) a collection of children's poetry, The Bean Eaters (1960), and Selected Poems (1963) followed the novel. One of her most popular volumes of poetry, We Real Cool, was released in 1966. With Broadside Press, a small black publisher founded by poet Dudley Randall, Brooks published Riot (1969), Family Pictures (1970), and her autobiography, Report from Part One (1972).

Ms. Brooks's teaching career began at Columbia College in Chicago in 1963. Over the course of her career, she taught creative writing at many different institutions including: Northeastern Illinois State College, Elmhurst College, Columbia University, City College of New York, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

In 1967, Brooks became involved in the Black Arts movement while attending the Fisk University Writers Conference in Nashville. At this point, she dropped her publisher Harper and Row to work with smaller publishing houses. While her poems always addressed social issues, her writing became markedly more concerned with the black experience in the 1960s.

Brooks succeeded Carl Sandburg as poet laureate of Illinois in 1968 and remained in this post until her death. Her dedication to this role and to bringing poetry to the people of Illinois was deep. Brooks gave many public readings and was an active visitor to Chicago schools and prisons. Her poetry workshops and contests for young people were meant to inspire and teach children that poetry can be a part of every day life.

Over the course of her career, Brooks received many honors. In 1976, she became the first black woman to be elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. The Library of Congress invited her to serve as poetry consultant in 1985. In 1994, the National Endowment for the Humanities named her its Jefferson Lecturer, the government's highest honor for achievement in the humanities. Brooks received honorary doctorate degrees from over 50 colleges and universities in recognition of her contribution to literature.

Brooks died in her home in Chicago on December 3, 2000.

Bibliography of Works by Gwendolyn Brooks

A Street in Bronzeville. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1945. Annie Allen. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1949. Maud Martha. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1953. Bronzeville Boys and Girls. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1956. The Bean Eaters. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960. Selected Poems. New York: Harper & Row, 1963. We Real Cool. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1966. The Wall. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1967. In the Mecca. New York: Harper & Row, 1968. Riot. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1969. Family Pictures. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1970. Aloneness. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1971. The World of Gwendolyn Brooks. New York: Harper & Row, 1971. Black Steel: Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1971. A Broadside Treasury. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1971. Jump Bad. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1971. Report from Part One. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1972. The Tiger Who Wore White Gloves, or What You Really Are, You Really Are. Chicago: Third World Press, 1974. Beckonings. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1975. Primer for Blacks. Chicago: Black Position Press, 1980. To Disembark. Chicago: Third World Press, 1981. Young Poets Primer. Chicago: Brooks Press, 1981. Mayor Harold Washington and Chicago, the I Will City. Chicago: Brooks Press, 1983. Very Young Poets. Chicago: Third World Press, 1983. Blacks. Chicago: Third World Press, 1987. Gottschalk and the Grande Tarantelle. Chicago, The David Company, 1988. Winnie. Chicago: The David Company, 1988.

Published Works on Gwendolyn Brooks

Bloom, Harold.Gwendolyn Brooks. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2005. Bolden, B. J.Urban Rage in Bronzeville: Social Commentary in the Poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks, 1945-1960. Chicago: Third World Press, 1999. Gayles, Gloria W.Conversations with Gwendolyn Brooks. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2003. Hill, Christine M.Gwendolyn Brooks: "poetry is life distilled." Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 2005. Kent, George E.A Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1990. Madhubuti, Haki R., ed. SayThat the River Turns: The Impact of Gwendolyn Brooks. Chicago: Third World Press, 1987. Melhem, D. H.Gwendolyn Brooks: Poetry and the Heroic Voice. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1987. Miller, R. Baxter.Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K.Hall, 1978. Mootry, Maria K., and Smith, Gary.A Life Distilled: Gwendolyn Brooks, Her Poetry and Fiction. Urbana: UP of Illinois, 1987. Shaw, Harry B.Gwendolyn Brooks. Boston: Twayne, 1980. Wright, Stephen Caldwell.The Chicago Collective: Poems for and Inspired by Gwendolyn Brooks. Sanford, Florida: Christopher-Burghardt, 1990. Wright, Stephen Caldwell.On Gwendolyn Brooks: Reliant Contemplation. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1996.

From the guide to the Gwendolyn Brooks papers, 1917-2000, 1950-1989, (The Bancroft Library.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf The New York Quarterly. Literary archive, [ca. 1980-1990]. Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
creatorOf Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967. Letter to Gwendolyn Brooks, 1956 October 4. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917-2000. Signature on place card, [ca. 1937-1974]. Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
creatorOf Rosenberger, Francis Coleman, 1915-. Papers of [Francis] Coleman Rosenberger, 1946-1952. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Kathleen Foster Campbell papers, 1924-1992 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Nalven, Albert G. Brower power : typescript, 1972, Nov. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Literary and scholarly manuscripts collection, [ca. 1930-1980] New York State Historical Documents Inventory
referencedIn Meredith, William, 1919-2007. William Meredith papers, 1947-1979. Library of Congress
referencedIn Richard Wright papers, 1927-1978 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Ginsberg (Allen) photograph collection Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Poetry mss., 1954-2002 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
creatorOf Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917-2000. Gwendolyn Brooks photograph collection [graphic]. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Anne Waldman Papers (1945-2012, bulk 1965-2000) University of Michigan
creatorOf Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917-2000. [Letter ca. 1967 March 20, Chicago, Ill. to] Roy Jansen, Harrisburg, Pa. / Roy Jansen. Office of Commonwealth Libraries, Pennsylvania State Library
creatorOf Carpenter, Margaret Haley. Papers of Margaret Haley Carpenter [manuscript], 1898-1985, bulk 1953-1985. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Bertolino, James, 1942-. Papers, 1968-1980. Ohio University, Alden Library
referencedIn Christian, Barbara, 1943-2000. Sound recordings from the Barbara Christian papers [sound recording]. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Joyce, Joyce Ann, 1949-. [Papers], 1950?-2001. Valdosta State University, Odum Library
creatorOf Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917-2000. Records, 1959-1984. University of Notre Dame, Hesburgh Library
referencedIn James A. Emanuel Papers, 1922-1995, (bulk 1960-1995) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Kahn, Hannah. Papers, 1940-1987. University of Florida
creatorOf Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917-2000. Signature on greeting card, [ca. 1937-1974]. Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
referencedIn Ben Shaktman Papers, 1949-2009 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Hannah Kahn Papers, 1939-1987 Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
referencedIn Knight, Etheridge. Etheridge Knight collection, 1968-1991; bulk 1982-1991. Butler University Libraries
referencedIn William Bronk Papers, 1908-1999. Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917-2000. Gwendolyn Brooks collection, 1959-1967. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Jean Burden Papers, 1931-1992 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Davies, Diana, 1938-. Papers 1960-1996 (ongoing). Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Fabre, Michel. Michel Fabre archives of African American arts and letters, 1910-2003. Emory University. Special Collections and Archives
referencedIn Adrienne Kennedy Papers TXRC94-A15., ca. 1954-1992 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Kinnell mss, 1936-1980 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Broadside Press Collection MS 571., 1965-1984, 1965-1975 Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries
referencedIn Fuller, Hoyt, 1923-1981. Hoyt Fuller papers, 1940-1981. Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library
creatorOf Forst, Rudolf, 1900-1973. A street in Bronzville / words by Gwendolyn Brooks ; music by Rudolf Forst. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Madgett, Naomi Cornelia Long. Naomi Long Madgett and Lotus Press papers. 1937-2004 (bulk 1970-2003). University of Michigan
referencedIn Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967. Papers of Langston Hughes [manuscript], 1925-1982. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Lightfoot, Toni Asante. Toni Asante Lightfoot poetry ephemera collection, 1991-2004. George Washington University
creatorOf Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917-2000. Poetry reading at Sarah Lawrence College [sound recording] / by Gwndolyn Brooks. Sarah Lawrence College, Esther Raushenbush Library
referencedIn Brooks, Gwendolyn. Kansas State Historical Society
referencedIn Friedan, Betty, 1921-2006. Papers, 1933-1985 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Miller, May. May Miller papers, 1906-1989. Emory University. Special Collections and Archives
creatorOf Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917-2000. Letter 1930-1940, San Jose, Cal. to Mr. Edwin Markham, [Staten Island] / Louis Bromfield. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
referencedIn Diana Davies Papers MS 309., 1960s-1996 (ongoing) Sophia Smith Collection
creatorOf Gwendolyn Brooks Papers, 1917-2000, (bulk 1950-1989) Bancroft Library
creatorOf Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917-2000. Typed letter signed Gwendolyn Brooks to: Miss Manwaring October 1, 1945. Wellesley College
referencedIn Piskor, Frank Peter,. The Frank P. Piskor Collection of Robert Frost : 1874-[ongoing], (bulk 1916-1970) St. Lawrence University, Owen D. Young Library
creatorOf Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917-2000. Of Robert Frost / Gwendolyn Brooks. Temple University, Blockson Afro-American History Collection
referencedIn Bronk, William. William Bronk papers, 1908-1999. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Gwendolyn Brooks correspondence, 1949-1967 University of Kansas Kenneth Spencer Research Library Kanas Collection
creatorOf Broadside Press. Broadside Press records, 1968-1999 (bulk, 1985-1996). University of Michigan
referencedIn Woodberry Poetry Room (Harvard College Library) collection of photographs of poets, 1959-1994 and undated. Houghton Library
creatorOf Gwendolyn Brooks collection, 1959-1967 Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Archives Section
creatorOf Engle, Paul, 1908-1991. Paul Engle papers, 1930-1991. Coe College, Stewart Memorial Library
creatorOf Kennedy, Adrienne. Papers, ca. 1954-1992. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917-2000. Papers, 1965. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
referencedIn Dannett, Sylvia G. L., 1909-. Sylvia G.L. Dannett papers, 1900-1965. Livingstone College, Andrew Carnegie Library
creatorOf Norris, Hoke, 1913-1977. Hoke Norris papers 1934-1977, bulk 1956-1977. Newberry Library
creatorOf James A. Emanuel Papers, 1922-1995, (bulk 1960-1995) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Conroy, Jack, 1898-1990. Jack Conroy papers, 1924-1991. Newberry Library
referencedIn New Yorker records New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917-2000. Report from Part one : typescript, [Oct. 1972]. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Paquette, Wayne. "To honey and bread old purity could love" / music, Wayne Paquette ; poetry, Gwendolyn Brooks. University of Chicago Library
creatorOf Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917-2000. Poetry sent to Marian Anderson, 1956. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Arna Bontemps Papers, 1927-1968 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Langston Hughes papers, 1862-1980 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917-2000. Letter 1936, Nov. 28, San Jose, Cal. to Mr. Edwin Markham, [Staten Island] / Louis Bromfield. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn The 100 Greatest Women of All Time.
Relation Name
associatedWith Baraka Amiri 1934-.... person
associatedWith Bertolino, James, 1942- person
correspondedWith Betty Friedan person
associatedWith Blakely, Henry person
associatedWith Blakely, Henry person
associatedWith Blakely, Nora person
associatedWith Blakely, Nora Brooks person
associatedWith Blakely, Nora Brooks. person
associatedWith Bontemps, Arna, 1902-1973 person
associatedWith Bradley, Van Allen person
associatedWith Broadside Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Bronk, William. person
associatedWith Brooks, Keziah C person
associatedWith Brooks, Keziah C. person
associatedWith Brooks, Keziah Wims person
associatedWith Burden, Carter, person
associatedWith Burden, Jean. person
associatedWith Campbell, Kathleen. person
associatedWith Campbell, Kathleen. person
associatedWith Carpenter, Margaret Haley. person
associatedWith Chicago Daily News corporateBody
associatedWith Chicago Defender corporateBody
associatedWith Chicago tribune corporateBody
associatedWith Christian, Barbara, 1943-2000. person
associatedWith City Colleges of Chicago. corporateBody
employeeOf Columbia college Chicago, Ill. corporateBody
associatedWith Conroy, Jack, 1898-1990. person
correspondedWith Dannett, Sylvia G. L., 1909- person
associatedWith David Anderson Brooks person
associatedWith Davies, Diana, 1938- person
employeeOf Elmhurst College corporateBody
correspondedWith Emanuel, James A. person
associatedWith Engle, Paul, 1908-1991. person
associatedWith Fabre, Michel. person
associatedWith Forst, Rudolf, 1900-1973. person
associatedWith Fuller, Hoyt, 1923-1981. person
associatedWith Ginsberg, Allen person
associatedWith Guggenheim Fellowship. corporateBody
associatedWith Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967. person
associatedWith Jansen, Roy. person
associatedWith Johnson, James Weldon, 1871-1938 person
correspondedWith Joyce, Joyce Ann, 1949- person
associatedWith Kahn, Hannah person
associatedWith Kahn, Hannah. person
associatedWith Kennedy, Adrienne, 1931- person
associatedWith King, Woodie person
associatedWith Kinnell, Galway, 1927- person
correspondedWith Knight, Etheridge. person
associatedWith Levine, Issac person
associatedWith Lightfoot, Toni Asante. person
associatedWith Madgett, Naomi Cornelia Long. person
associatedWith Madhubuti, Haki R., 1942- person
associatedWith Manwaring, Elizabeth Wheeler, b. 1879. person
associatedWith Markham, Anna Catherine, 1859-1938. person
associatedWith Markham, Edwin, 1852-1940, person
associatedWith Markham, Virgil, b. 1899. person
correspondedWith Meredith, William, 1919-2007. person
associatedWith Miller, Joaquin, 1837-1913. person
associatedWith Miller, May. person
associatedWith Modern Poetry Association corporateBody
associatedWith Muir, John, 1838-1914. person
associatedWith Nalven, Albert G. person
associatedWith National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. corporateBody
honoredBy National Institute of Arts and Letters (U.S.) corporateBody
correspondedWith New Yorker Magazine, Inc corporateBody
associatedWith Norris, Hoke, 1913-1977. person
employeeOf Northeastern Illinois University corporateBody
associatedWith Online Archive of California. corporateBody
associatedWith Paquette, Wayne. person
associatedWith Phelan, James Duval Senator, 1861-1930. person
associatedWith Piskor, Frank Peter, person
associatedWith Poetry: A Magazine of Verse corporateBody
associatedWith Randall, Dudley, 1914- person
associatedWith Rissler, Howard F., 1904-1989. person
associatedWith Rosenberger, Francis Coleman, 1915- person
associatedWith Sarah Lawrence College. corporateBody
associatedWith Shaktman, Ben, 1937- person
associatedWith The New York Quarterly. corporateBody
employeeOf University of Chicago. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Wisconsin corporateBody
associatedWith Waldman, Anne, 1945-. person
associatedWith Woodberry Poetry Room (Harvard College Library). corporateBody
associatedWith Wright, Richard, 1908-1960. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Topeka KS US
Chicago IL US
United States 00 US
African American poetry
African American poets
African American poets
African Americans
African American women poets
African American women poets
American poetry
American poetry
Poets, American
Authors, American. Correspondence, reminiscences, etc
Poets laureate
Women poets


Birth 1917-06-07

Death 2000-12-03





Ark ID: w6pd3rgp

SNAC ID: 83914592