James Baldwin

James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an African-American writer.

While he was a child, his mother left his biological father because of his drug abuse and moved to Harlem, where she married a preacher, David Baldwin. James attended the Frederick Douglass Junior High, where he was influenced by poet Countee Cullen, a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance. He then went on to DeWitt Clinton High School, where he worked on the school magazine as literary editor. While working odd jobs, Baldwin wrote short stories, essays, and book reviews.

He left the United States at the age of 24 and settled in Paris, where he was involved with the Left Bank. He later became a spokesman for the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s. Nonetheless, he rejected the label “civil rights activist”, and supported the idea that if one is a citizen, one should not have to fight for one’s civil rights.

Baldwin died from stomach cancer in France.


Quote

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” James Baldwin


Books

  • Go Tell It on the Mountain (semi-autobiographical novel; 1953)
  • The Amen Corner (play; 1954)
  • Notes of a Native Son (essays; 1955)
  • Giovanni’s Room (novel; 1956)
  • Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son (essays; 1961)
  • Another Country (novel; 1962)
  • A Talk to Teachers (essay; 1963)
  • The Fire Next Time (essays; 1963)
  • Blues for Mister Charlie (play; 1964)
  • Nothing Personal (with Richard Avedon, photography) (1964)
  • Going to Meet the Man (stories; 1965)
  • Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone (novel; 1968)
  • A Rap on Race (with Margaret Mead) (1971)
  • No Name in the Street (essays; 1972)
  • One Day When I Was Lost (orig.: A. Haley; 1972)
  • A Dialogue (with Nikki Giovanni) (1973)
  • If Beale Street Could Talk (novel; 1974)
  • The Devil Finds Work (essays; 1976)
  • Little Man Little Man: A Story of Childhood (with Yoran Cazac, 1976)
  • Just Above My Head (novel; 1979)
  • Jimmy’s Blues (poems; 1983)
  • The Evidence of Things Not Seen (essays; 1985)
  • The Price of the Ticket (essays; 1985)
  • Native Sons (with Sol Stein, 2004)
  • The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings (essays; 2010)
  • Jimmy’s Blues and Other Poems (poems; 2014)

Recording

  • A Lover’s Question (CD, Les Disques Du Crépuscule – TWI 928-2, 1990)
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