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Lidwien Kapteijns

Somali novelist, short story writer, critic, journalist, and founder of cultural and literary journals and institutions, was born in Jarriiban, Mudug region, Somalia, in 1952. His name is also given as Mohamed Dahir Afrah and Maxamed Daahir Afrax. He graduated from high school in Mogadishu in 1973. When the Siad Barre government introduced the first official orthography for the Somali language in 1972, Afrax founded the first bilingual Somali-Arabic monthly magazine using the new script, Codka Jubba (“The Voice of Jubba,” 1972–1975). In 1976, Afrax’s story “Guur-ku-sheeg” (“Pseudo-marriage”) was serialized in the Somali national newspaper Xiddigta Oktoobar (“The October Star”), laying the basis for a lasting literary tradition of serialized fiction.

In this same serialized form he also first published his popular novel Maanafaay, the story of the girl Maanafaay, who, in the Mogadishu of the 1970s, strives to be modern and modest ...

Article

Abby Wolf

Ghanaian philosopher, educator, novelist, and poet, was born in London on 8 May 1954. His full name is Kwame Anthony Akroma-Ampim Kusi Appiah. Appiah’s father was the prominent Ghanaian lawyer and politician, Joseph Emmanuel Appiah, who in Ghana served as a member of Parliament, an ambassador, and president of the Ghana Bar Association. His mother was the English novelist and children’s writer, Peggy Cripps Appiah. Appiah was born in London while his father was a law student there, but the family returned to Ghana when he was a baby. Appiah’s paternal and maternal forebears were politically distinguished in Ghana and England, respectively. His uncle, Otumfuo Nana Poku Ware II, succeeded his great-uncle, Otumfuo Sir Osei Agyeman Prempeh II, as king of Ashanti in 1970 His mother s father was Sir Stafford Cripps Britain s chancellor of the Exchequer who was involved in negotiating the terms of Indian independence ...

Article

Nicole Sealey

novelist, philosopher, and scholar was born in London, England, to Joe Appiah, a Ghanaian barrister and statesman, and Peggy Cripps, novelist and daughter of Sir Stafford Cripps, a British statesman. Not long after Appiah's birth, his family relocated to Ghana, where he attended primary school. After the political imprisonment of his father by then‐president Kwame Nkrumah, Appiah returned to England. There he completed his secondary education at Bryanston, a British boarding school.

Influenced by his mother's affinity for the literary arts, Appiah read works of authors such as Chinua Achebe, D. H. Lawrence, and Tolstoy. Visitors to the Appiah residence included the Pan‐Africanist authors and theorists C. L. R. James and Richard Wright. Appiah's multiethnic family and early fascination with literature helped shape his identity and his world view. In 1972 he entered Cambridge University where he earned both a BA and ...

Article

Arna Bontemps was born in Alexandria, Louisiana, to parents of Creole descent who eventually converted to the Seventh-Day Adventist faith. While Arna was young, the Bontemps family moved to Los Angeles, California. The childhood loss of his mother and the stern upbringing by his pragmatic father affected him deeply. His father hoped, mistakenly, that his son would make the family trade of masonry his life's work. Educated at Seventh-Day Adventist institutions, Bontemps graduated from Pacific Union College in 1923. In 1924 he took a teaching job at the Harlem Academy in New York City.

Literary notice and success came early to Bontemps. His creativity and social conscience were excited by the cultural vitality he found in New York in the 1920s. By 1926 his poetry had appeared in two of the most important journals of the period, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ...

Article

Navneet Sethi

poet, anthologist, and librarian during the Harlem Renaissance. Born in Alexandria, Louisiana, from age three Arna Wendell Bontemps grew up in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. After attending public schools there, he attended Pacific Union College in Angwin, California, graduating in 1923.

After college Bontemps, who had already begun writing, moved to New York City and became a teacher in Harlem. Like his contemporary Arthur A. Schomburg, Bontemps excavated the rich cultural heritage of the African American community and won recognition quite early. Opportunity magazine awarded Bontemps its Alexander Pushkin poetry prize twice: in 1926 for the poem “Golgotha Is a Mountain” and in 1927 for “The Return.” Also in 1927 his poem “Nocturne at Bethesda” won The Crisis magazine's first-ever poetry contest. In 1926 he married Alberta Johnson; they had six children.

Bontemps's first published novel for adults, God Sends Sunday (1931 ...

Article

Robert E. Fleming

writer, was born in Alexandria, Louisiana, the son of Paul Bismark Bontemps, a bricklayer, and Maria Carolina Pembroke, a schoolteacher. He was reared in Los Angeles, where his family moved when he was three. He graduated from Pacific Union College in Angwin, California, in 1923.Bontemps then moved to Harlem, New York, where the Harlem Renaissance had already attracted the attention of West Coast intellectuals. He found a teaching job at the Harlem Academy in 1924 and began to publish poetry. He won the Alexander Pushkin Prize from Opportunity, a journal published by the National Urban League, in 1926 and 1927 and The Crisis (official journal of the NAACP) Poetry Prize in 1926. His career soon intersected that of the poet Langston Hughes, with whom he became a close friend and sometime collaborator. In Harlem, Bontemps also came to know Countée Cullen, W ...

Article

Lisa Clayton Robinson

Writer Erna Brodber was raised in rural St. Mary, Jamaica, by parents who were social activists in their small community. After graduating from high school in Kingston, she worked as a civil servant and teacher in Montego Bay before entering the University of the West Indies (UWI), where she received a B.A. degree in history in 1963. Brodber then taught at a private girls' school in Trinidad for one year before continuing her education. She earned a M.Sc. degree in sociology from UWI in 1968 and received a scholarship to study at McGill University in Canada and the University of Washington.

While living in the United States, Brodber was greatly influenced by the Black Power Movement and the women s movements of the late 1960s After returning to Jamaica she became a lecturer in sociology at UWI and earned an international reputation for her research serving ...

Article

John C. Gruesser

Born a slave in Maryland, John Edward Bruce grew up in Washington, D.C. Developing an interest in journalism, he worked as a general helper in the office of the Washington correspondent for the New York Times in 1874. By the time Bruce was twenty he was writing for newspapers, using the pen name “Rising Sun”, and in 1879 he started his own paper, the Argus, in Washington, D.C. In 1884 Bruce began writing under the name “Bruce Grit” in the Cleveland Gazette and the New York Age, eventually becoming one of the most widely read and influential African American journalists of his era. In his writings and speeches, Bruce decried mixed-race marriages, denounced Euro-American imperialism, aggressively promoted race pride and solidarity, championed self-help, and advocated the study of black history to combat the anti-Negro rhetoric of the post-Reconstruction period.

Bruce served as a conduit linking people ...

Article

David Alvin Canton

journalist and historian, was born in Piscataway, Maryland, the son of Martha Allen Clark and Robert Bruce, who were both enslaved Africans. In 1859Major Harvey Griffin, Robert Bruce's owner, sold Robert to a Georgia slaveholder. Raised by his mother, John lived in Maryland until 1861, when Union troops marching through Maryland freed him and his mother, taking them to Washington, D.C., where John lived until 1892. In 1865 John's mother worked as a domestic in Stratford, Connecticut, where her son received his early education in an integrated school. One year later they returned to Washington, D.C., where John continued his education. Although he did not complete high school, he enrolled in a course at Howard University in 1872. John married Lucy Pinkwood, an opera singer from Washington, D.C. In 1895 he married Florence Adelaide Bishop, with whom he had one child.

Bruce began ...

Article

A native of Aracati, in northeastern Brazil, Adolfo Caminha moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1883 to attend the Escola de Marinha (Maritime Academy). He spent much of his life as a naval officer, drawing from his maritime experiences in his writing. Much of his writing draws thematically from the harsh reality of life at sea and reflects a deterministic view of race relations. Together, these qualities recall the two most important historical struggles of nineteenth-century Brazil and Caminha's most ardent causes—the abolition of slavery in 1888, and the founding of the republic in 1889.

His novel Bom Crioulo (1895), in particular, explores these newfound freedoms. A former slave nicknamed Bom Crioulo (crioulo is a term for a black person born in Brazil pursues and seduces Aleixo a white cabin boy after suffering a ruthless flogging for defending the boy against improper advances ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

French philosopher and novelist, was born on 7 November 1913 in Mondovi, Algeria. His family belonged to the working classes of the pied noir European settler community in the French colony of Algeria. Although pied noir people enjoyed great legal and political privileges over the vast majority of Muslim Algerians due to the French colonial government, Camus’ family demonstrated that Algerians of European descent were not all living in affluence. His mother, Catherine Hélène Sintés, was of Spanish descent, like many other pied noirs and worked as a maid She was illiterate and a stroke had left her partially deaf His father Lucien Auguste Camus had been an agricultural worker before joining the French military on the onset of war with the Central Powers in World War I He died in the first battle of the Marne in the opening months of the conflict and his body never was ...

Article

Kate Tuttle

Algerian-born Albert Camus was one of France’s most famous twentieth-century writers. Although his impoverished boyhood in colonial North Africa led him into left-wing politics as a youth, Camus later became known for his belief in existentialism, a strain of philosophy that argues that human beings are alone in a godless universe and must find meaning without the comfort of religion.

Camus was born in a small town in eastern Algeria. He was only a year old when his father, a farm laborer from France, died in battle in World War I (1914–1918). His mother moved the family to a working-class neighborhood in Algiers where Camus excelled in the local elementary and high schools As a teenager Camus contracted tuberculosis a disease that robbed him of his first love playing soccer and plagued him his entire life As a student at the University of Algiers he studied philosophy ...

Article

Philip Nanton

Britishwriter best known for his books The French Revolution (1837) and Frederick the Great (1858–65). Born in Scotland, and settling permanently in London in 1834, Carlyle was the author of many other works, including essays and articles in periodicals. Among these was his ‘Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question’, originally published in Fraser's Magazine (London) in December 1849, and later rewritten and republished as a pamphlet called Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question (1853) and in some of the collected editions of the author's Latter‐Day Pamphlets (first published 1850).

In form, the Occasional Discourse is an imaginary report of a speech by a fictional orator and it would be unwise to assume that everything in the speech should be regarded as identical with the personal opinions of Carlyle who may have deliberately exaggerated some elements for effect The speaker ...

Article

Christopher Berkeley

legal scholar and novelist, was born Stephen Lisle Carter in Washington, D.C., the second of five children to Lisle C. Carter Jr., a lawyer and educator, and Emily E. Carter, who worked as an assistant to the head of the National Urban Coalition. Carter attended public schools in Washington, New York City, and Ithaca, New York, before matriculating at Stanford University, from which he graduated in 1976. He then proceeded to Yale Law School, receiving his JD in 1979.

For the next two years Carter completed clerkships for Judge Spottswood W. Robinson III of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (1979–1980), and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (1980–1981). He was admitted to the District of Columbia bar in 1981 and worked briefly as an associate at the Washington, D.C law firm of Shea and Gardner before ...

Article

Carol Baker Sapora

anthropologist, writer, and educator, was born in Montgomery, Alabama, the daughter of Georgia Fagain and Moses Stewart. Day was of African American, Indian, and European descent. The Stewart family lived several years in Boston, Massachusetts, where Caroline attended public schools. After her father's death, Caroline and her mother moved to Tuskegee, Alabama, where Georgia Stewart taught school and married John Percy Bond, a life insurance executive. The couple had two children, and Caroline adopted Bond's name. She attended Tuskegee Institute and in 1912 earned a bachelor of arts degree from Atlanta University. She taught English at Alabama State College in Montgomery for a year and then worked for the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) in Montclair, New Jersey. In 1916 she began studying English and classical literature at Radcliffe College of Harvard University, earning a second bachelor's degree in 1919 At Radcliffe she impressed her anthropology professor ...

Article

James Smethurst

Samuel R. Delany's early work played a major role in the development of a more literary “new wave” in science fiction during the 1960s. The science fiction genre was known previously more for its ideas rather than for its stylistic innovation. Delany's first novels were heavily influenced by the formal experimentation of modernist and postmodernist writers such as James Joyce, Ralph Ellison, and Djuna Barnes as well as by the work of leading science fiction writers such as Isaac Asimov and Theodore Sturgeon.

Delany s writing was concerned with technology and the development of artistic and outlaw subcultures on the margins of society anticipating the later cyberpunk trend in video film fiction and graphic art Perhaps influenced by being one of very few African American science fiction writers of his generation and by his open homosexuality although he also had significant heterosexual relationships Delany from the beginning ...

Article

Luca Prono

writer, literary critic, and professor, was born in New York City to Samuel R. Delany and Margaret Carey Boyd Delany, funeral parlor owners. Delany spent his childhood in Harlem. Thanks to his wealthy family background, he was able from an early age to cultivate his many cultural interests. He first attended the Bronx High School of Science and then went on to City College, but dropped out after only one semester. Although he later came out as gay, Delany married and fathered a child with the Jewish poet Marilyn Hacker in 1961 (the couple divorced in 1980).

In 1962, when he was only twenty years old, Delany published his first novel, The Jewels of Aptor the first in a long series of science fiction books After his literary debut he gained a reputation as a prodigy in science fiction and enjoyed his renown ...

Article

Dagmawi Woubshet

poet, novelist, translator, literary critic, and professor, was born in Stamford, Connecticut. Dixon's parents had moved from the South to settle in west Stamford, as part of the broader Great Migration to the North, where Handy, Dixon's father, a sharecropper from Pee Dee, North Carolina, started a new professional life as a contractor and a house painter, and Jessie, his mother, from Irmo, South Carolina, became a nurse. Indeed, Stamford's social and cultural milieu—namely, the interface of the North and South—would later shape Dixon's creative enterprise. Dixon went on to receive his BA from Wesleyan University in 1971 and his MA in 1973 and PhD in 1975 from Brown University. Dixon emerged as a literary figure with the publication of Change of Territory (1983), his first collection of poems. In Change as in much of Dixon s early work the idea ...

Article

John Lang

Born in Connecticut, Melvin Dixon earned his BA at Wesleyan University (1971) and his MA and PhD at Brown University (1973, 1975). His first book, Change of Territory (1983), a collection of free-verse poems, reflects his interest in his family's southern roots and his experiences—including a visit to Africa—while he was living in Paris in the mid-1970s. For Dixon, a change of territory affords new perspectives and new or enlarged identities, themes mirrored in the book's four-part structure. The opening poem, “Hungry Travel,” focuses on his parents’ departure for Connecticut from North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. Other poems expand the poet's concept of kin to include literary influences such as Jean Toomer, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, and Robert Hayden The long poem Bobo Baoulé which comprises part 3 emphasizes racial ancestry as it recounts the ...

Article

Arnold Rampersad

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in 1868. He was born into a small community of blacks who had settled in the region since at least the Revolutionary War, in which an ancestor had fought. His mother, Mary Sylvina Burghardt, married a restless young visitor to the region, Alfred Du Bois, who disappeared soon after the birth of his son. Du Bois grew up a thorough New Englander, as he recalled, a member of the Congregational Church and a star student in the local schools, where he was encouraged to excel.

In 1885 he left Great Barrington for Nashville Tennessee to enter Fisk University The racism of the South appalled him No one but a Negro going into the South without previous experience of color caste can have any conception of its barbarism Nevertheless he enjoyed life at Fisk from which ...