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Robin G. Schulze

and influential critic who strived to reanimate and draw attention to American verse in the early twentieth century. Born and raised in Boston, William Stanley Braithwaite began life in a prosperous, cultured home but, on the death of his father, was forced to quit school at the age of twelve to help support his family. Lacking formal instruction, Braithwaite rigorously educated himself. He eventually found work as a typesetter in a Boston printing firm. Setting poems by John Keats and William Wordsworth, Braithwaite developed a love of lyric poetry that inspired his own writing. He began to publish poems and reviews in the Boston Journal and Transcript and eventually produced his first book of poetry, Lyrics of Life and Love, in 1904, followed by The House of Falling Leaves (1908). In 1906 Braithwaite started his critical career in earnest with a regular feature in ...

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Dalton Gross and Mary Jean Gross

poet, critic, and anthologist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of William Smith Braithwaite and Emma DeWolfe. Of his two avocations—American poetry and the status of the American Negro—the second clearly had its origins in an unusual cultural heritage. The Braithwaite family, of mixed black and white descent, was wealthy and held prominent positions in British Guiana. Braithwaite's father studied medicine in London but quit because of apparent mental strain and moved to Boston, where he married DeWolfe, whose family had been in slavery. His father remained aloof from neighbors, educating his children at home. Braithwaite's autobiography mentions no employment held by his father, whose death, when his son was eight years old, left the family destitute.Braithwaite s mother was forced into menial employment and at the age of twelve so was Braithwaite After showing interest in reading he was given a job as a typesetter ...

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Dalton Gross and Mary Jean Gross

Braithwaite, William Stanley Beaumont (06 December 1878–08 June 1962), poet, critic, and anthologist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of William Smith Braithwaite and Emma DeWolfe. Of his two preoccupations—American poetry and the status of the American Negro—the second clearly had its origins in an unusual cultural heritage. The Braithwaite family, of mixed black and white descent, was wealthy and held prominent positions in British Guiana. Braithwaite’s father studied medicine in London but quit because of apparent mental strain and moved to Boston, where he married DeWolfe, whose family had been in slavery. His father remained aloof from neighbors, educating his children at home. Braithwaite’s autobiography mentions no employment held by his father, whose death, when his son was eight years old, left the family destitute.

Braithwaite s mother was forced into menial employment and at the age of twelve so was Braithwaite After showing interest ...

Article

Wayne Dawkins

literary critic. Anatole Broyard was born in New Orleans, the son of Paul Broyard, a carpenter, and Edna Miller. Young Anatole was the second of three children. His older sister, Lorraine, was fair complexioned and his younger sister, Shirley, was brown complexioned. Anatole was pale to olive skinned as a boy. This color distinction is important, because that issue defined the future writer's life.

Anatole's family moved to Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant in the 1920s. Anatole's father arrived in town as a master carpenter, but he learned that the carpenters’ union barred applicants of color. Paul Broyard decided to identify himself as white in order to work. The rest of the family did not overtly pass for white; they muted their racial identity, and that worked in multiethnic Brooklyn.

Young Anatole meanwhile picked up the nickname “Buddy,” according to the historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. In ...

Article

Paul Breslin

Martinican poet, playwright, essayist, and political leader, was born on 26 June 1913, in Basse Pointe, Martinique. His parents, Fernand and Eléonore Césaire, were of modest means but devoted to their six children’s education. In 1924, Césaire entered the Lycée Schoelcher in Martinique’s capital, Fort-de-France. In 1931 he went to France to study at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, then, in 1935, at l’École Normale Supérieure. In Paris, Césaire developed friendships with other young black intellectuals and writers, most notably the Senegalese Léopold Sédar Senghor and Léon Damas (1912–1978), a French Guianese who had been his schoolmate at the Lycée Schoelcher. In 1937, he met and married a fellow Martinican student and poet, Suzanne Roussi (1915–1966). The marriage produced six children, one of whom, Ina Césaire (1942– ), became a prominent writer as well.

Césaire and his circle sought a definition of black identity They were influenced by the ...

Article

Richard A. Long

Born in Atlanta but reared in Detroit where he graduated from Wayne State University, Hoyt Fuller embarked on a career in journalism and editing. He held positions with the Michigan Chronicle, the Detroit Tribune, and Collier's Encyclopedia, among others. Increasingly frustrated by American racism, he went abroad in 1957, living in France and in Spain; later, attracted by the anticolonial stance of Sekou Toure of Guinea, he travelled in Africa, an experience evoked in his only book, a collection of essays, Return to Africa (1971). Fuller returned to the United States in 1960.

Fuller had worked briefly as an associate editor at the monthly Ebony in 1954 before going abroad, and when Ebony publisher John Johnson decided to revive the periodical Negro Digest in 1961 he offered Fuller the job of editing it Fuller accepted the position but rejected the digest format ...

Article

Bobby Donaldson

One of the chief advocates of the Black Aesthetic, Addison Gayle, Jr., was born in Newport News, Virginia, on 2 June 1932. Inspired by the growing example of Richard Wright, young Gayle became a fastidious reader and hoped that a writing career would enable him to over come the strictures of poverty and racism. By the time he graduated from high school in 1950, Gayle had completed a three-hundred-page novel.

Unable to attend college or secure profitable employment, Gayle joined the air force. During his short stint, he wrote copious drafts of his novel, short stories, and poetry and submitted them for publication. After an honorable discharge and several rejection letters from publishers, Gayle reluctantly returned to Virginia.

In 1960, Gayle enrolled in the City College of New York and received his BA in 1965. The following year he earned an MA in English ...

Article

Richard A. Long

Alain Locke's role as a general factotum of the Harlem Renaissance has tended to overshadow the full dimensions of an active and productive life. John Edgar Tidwell and John Wright list more than three hundred items spanning the period from 1904 to 1953 in “Alain Locke: A Comprehensive Bibliography of His Published Writings” (Callaloo, Feb.–Oct., 1981). Born in (or near) Philadelphia to parents who were school-teachers, Locke came to maturity in the self-conscious genteel ambiance of Philadelphia's black elite. After completing secondary and normal school studies in Philadelphia, he went to Harvard College, where he majored in philosophy. An appointment as a Rhodes scholar in 1907 followed his undergraduate Harvard experience and he spent time at both Oxford and the University of Berlin, returning to the United States in 1911 Shortly after he began his long career as a teacher at Howard University He received his ...

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

In his introduction to Alain Locke: Reflections on a Modern Renaissance Man, Russell J. Linnemann points out that although Alain Locke was trained as a philosopher at Harvard, Oxford, and Berlin Universities, “anthropology, art, music, literature, education, political theory, sociology, and African studies represent only a few of his wide range of intellectual pursuits.” Linnemann goes on to hypothesize that this extraordinary breadth of intellectual activity is “the primary reason why a biography of him has not yet been written … few if any potential biographers who might wish to examine the scope of his thought, assess his often provocative contributions, and place them within the context of the appropriate disciplines, would have the intellectual breadth or depth to fulfill the task properly.” The title of Linnemann's edited volume gets to the heart of Alain Locke's legacy: While he is often best remembered for his role in the Harlem ...

Article

Gary Ashwill

Taught by Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson at his Wilmington, Delaware, high school, J. Saunders Redding earned an advanced degree in English at Brown University (1932) and was a professor at various colleges and universities, including More-house, Hampton, and Cornell. In 1949, his stint as a visiting professor at Brown made him the first African American to hold a faculty position at an Ivy League university. He wrote many books and articles on African American culture and other topics, including To Make a Poet Black (1939), a landmark history of African American literature; No Day of Triumph (1942), an autobiographical account of a journey through southern black communities; and Stranger and Alone (1950), a novel, as well as several more general historical and sociological works. He also edited with Arthur P. Davis an important anthology, Cavalcade Negro American Writing from 1760 to the ...

Article

Kimberly Welch

Redding, J. Saunders (13 October 1906–02 March 1988), African-American educator, historian, and literary critic, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the son of Lewis Alfred Redding, a schoolteacher, and Mary Ann Holmes. As graduates of Howard University, Redding’s parents maintained a modest middle-class environment for their children; his father was secretary of the local Wilmington branch of the NAACP. Redding graduated from high school in 1923 and entered Lincoln University in Pennsylvania that year, with no discernible career ambitions. In 1924 he transferred to Brown University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1928.

After graduation Redding became an instructor at Morehouse College in Atlanta where in 1929 he married Esther Elizabeth James The Reddings had two children Redding felt that his liberal political beliefs which his conservative colleagues believed were too radical were a major factor in the Morehouse College administration s decision to fire him in ...

Article

Jay Saunders Redding grew up in a middle-class family in Wilmington, Delaware. He received his Ph.B. in 1928 and his M.A. in 1932 from Brown University. Redding taught English at a number of colleges and universities, including Morehouse College (1928–1931), Louisville Municipal College (1934–1936), and Southern University in Louisiana (1936–1938), where he was department chair.

In 1939, Redding published his first book, To Make a Poet Black, in which he trained a critical eye on African American literature and produced a unique study. As a result of this scholarship he received a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation to study the life of blacks in the South. The product of his study was the semiautobiographical book No Day of Triumph (1942 After publishing this book Redding gained a reputation as a scholar of and spokesperson for both the accomplishments and tribulations ...

Article

Jennifer Burton

and important figure in the 1960s black arts movement. Eugene Redmond was born 1 December 1937 in St. Louis, Missouri. Orphaned at age nine, he was raised by his grandmother and “neighborhood fathers,” made up of members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and friends of his older brother. During high school he worked on the newspaper and yearbook, performed in school and church plays, and composed for neighborhood singing groups.

From 1958 to 1961Redmond served as a U.S. Marine in the Far East, acquiring a speaking knowledge of Japanese. He was an associate editor of the East St. Louis Beacon from 1961 to 1962. In 1963 Redmond co-founded a weekly paper in East St. Louis, the Monitor, working at different times as a contributing editor, executive editor, and editorial page editor.

At Southern Illinois University he was the first African American student editor of the university ...

Article

Mary Krane Derr

poet, writer, and educator, was born Carolyn Marie Rodgers in Chicago, Illinois, the youngest child of Clarence Rodgers, welder, and Bazella Cato Colding Rodgers, homemaker. Rodgers was one of four children, including two sisters and a brother. The family had migrated from Little Rock, Arkansas, and settled in Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. Rodgers's parents encouraged their children to read and involved them in the local African Methodist Episcopal Church. After graduating from Hyde Park High School, Rodgers attended Roosevelt University in Chicago, but left around 1965, one course short of her B.A. She earned her B.A. in English from Chicago State University in 1981 and her M.A. in the same subject from the same institution in 1984.

Rodgers found her literary voice through the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and early 1970s She was an original member of the Organization ...

Article

Gerry Cambridge

In Crocodile Dandy, an essay about the Australian poet Les Murray, which amusingly begins with “the barbarians” approaching “the capital” with their rambunctious and superbly learned bards in tow, Derek Walcott provides a witty shorthand for the surprise of Empire at finding its former colonies' poets more au fait with its civilization's great art than it is itself. Walcott, as a son of the former colony of the British Empire, St. Lucia, is a perfect example—a poet from the margins, greatly learned in English literature, who has been widely feted both in Britain and America.

Article

Pamala S. Deane

educator, literary critic, and anthologist, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Mary Catherine Dalton, a homemaker and mother of eight children, and David C. Washington, a bank guard at Cleveland National Bank. In 1962 she earned a BA from Notre Dame College, and she was a public school teacher of English from 1962 to 1964 before earning an MA in 1966 from the University of Detroit in Michigan.

Washington served as an instructor at St. John College of Cleveland from 1966 to 1968. She received her PhD from the University of Detroit in 1976, and was an assistant professor there from 1972 to 1977 and an associate professor from 1977 to 1979. At Detroit, she served as director of the Center for Black Studies. From 1980 to 1988 Washington was an associate professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Boston in ...

Article

Ann Hostetler

author and editor, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to Pittman Watkins, a laborer, and Katie Watkins, a homemaker. When he was a young child the family moved to Youngstown, Ohio, following the second wave of the Great Migration. Watkins called it “that second large wave of Southern black emigrants” (Dancing with Strangers, 23). He chronicled much of this youthful journey in Dancing with Strangers: A Memoir (1998), in which he describes his family as “a Rainbow Coalition” (60).

His dark-skinned father had African and Native American ancestry; his mother, whose father was Irish could have passed for white Because of the variety of skin tones in his own family Watkins didn t pay much attention to racial differences until he began school when he first experienced racial discrimination from other students After a rocky start in elementary school in which ...