Happy Monday, Everyone. This week’s featured artist is Mr. James Baldwin. We’ll look at some of his most acclaimed writings, essays, novels, and TV/radio addresses.
Born on August 2, 1924, in New York City, James Baldwin published the 1953 novel Go Tell It on the Mountain, going on to garner acclaim for his insights on race, spirituality and humanity. Other novels included Giovanni’s Room, Another Country and Just Above My Head as well as essay works like Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time. Having lived in France, he died on December 1, 1987 in Saint-Paul de Vence.
Writer and playwright James Baldwin was born August 2, 1924, in Harlem, New York. One of the 20th century’s greatest writers, Baldwin broke new literary ground with the exploration of racial and social issues in his many works. He was especially well known for his essays on the black experience in America.
Baldwin was born to a young single mother, Emma Jones, at Harlem Hospital. She reportedly never told him the name of his biological father. Jones married a Baptist minister named David Baldwin when James was about three years old. Despite their strained relationship, he followed in his stepfather’s footsteps—who he always referred to as his father—during his early teen years. He served as a youth minister in a Harlem Pentecostal church from the ages of 14 to 16.
Baldwin developed a passion for reading at an early age, and demonstrated a gift for writing during his school years. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, where he worked on the school’s magazine with future famous photographer Richard Avedon. He published numerous poems, short stories and plays in the magazine, and his early work showed an understanding for sophisticated literary devices in a writer of such a young age.
Go Tell It on the Mountain is a 1953 semi-autobiographical novel by James Baldwin. It tells the story of John Grimes, an intelligent teenager in 1930s Harlem, and his relationship to his family and his church. The novel also reveals the back stories of John’s mother, his biological father, and his violent, religious fanatic step-father, Gabriel Grimes.
The novel focuses on the role of the Pentecostal Church in the lives of African-Americans, as a negative source of repression and moral hypocrisy and also as a positive source of inspiration and community. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Go Tell It on the Mountain 39th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Time Magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.