James Baldwin

Facts about James Baldwin

James Baldwin died at 63 years old
Born: August 2, 1924
Best known as: Author of Go Tell It On The Mountain

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James Baldwin Biography

Name at birth: James Arthur Jones

James Baldwin made his reputation with his first novel, Go Tell It On The Mountain (1953), an autobiographical tale of growing up in Harlem.

He became one of the leading African-American authors of his generation, known for novels and essays that tackled black-white and hetero-homosexual relationships. He was particularly a noted essayist during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.

James Baldwin turned to writing after being encouraged by author Richard Wright. Like Wright, Baldwin left the U.S. after World War II and moved to France. His novels, including Giovanni’s Room (1956), Another Country (1962) and Just Above My Head (1979), all deal with the struggle for individuality against intolerance.

He also wrote several plays, including Blues For Mister Charlie (1964), and Evidence of Things Not Seen (1986), a book about racially-motivated child murders in Atlanta.

Extra credit

James Baldwin was named James Arthur Jones at birth; his mother was Emma Berdis Jones, and he never knew his father. He took his father’s last name after his mother married David Baldwin in 1927… James Baldwin never married and had no children. Although some of his books had gay characters and themes, Baldwin himself never publicly described his own sexuality… James Baldwin was honored with a Google Doodle on February 1, 2024.


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