James Arthur Baldwin
Born: August 2, 1924 – Harlem, New York, U.S.
Died: December 1, 1987 (aged 63) – Saint-Paul de Vence, France
Occupation: Writer, Novelist, Poet, Playwright, Activist
Baldwin spent an impoverished boyhood in Harlem and at 14 became a preacher in the Fireside Pentecostal Church. His first two novels, Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953), reflecting his experience as a young preacher, and Giovanni’s Room (1956), which dealt with his homosexuality, were written while he lived in Paris. He returned to the United States in 1957 and participated in the civil-rights movement, later returning to France where he lived for the remainder of his life.
Another Country (1962), a bitter novel about sexual relations and racial tension, received critical acclaim, as did the publication of the perceptive essays in The Fire Next Time (1963). His eloquence and unsparing honesty made Baldwin one of the most influential authors of his time.
Other works include the play Blues for Mr. Charlie (1964); a volume of short stories, Going to Meet the Man (1964); If Beale Street Could Talk (1974), the story of a young black couple victimized by the judicial system; and Just Above My Head (1979). Collections of essays include Notes of a Native Son (1955), Nobody Knows My Name (1961), No Name in the Street (1972), and The Price of a Ticket (1985).