James Baldwin | Author

(August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987)

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

James Baldwin; As Much Truth As One Can Bear – 1962 New York Times review

James Arthur Baldwin was an American author from New York City and has acclaimed works across various media, including essays, novels, plays, and poems. In addition to writing, Baldwin was a well-known public speaker during the civil rights movement in the United States.

In 1953, Baldwin published his first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain. He was only seventeen when he first started writing the piece and published it in Paris. His first collection of essays, Notes of a Native Son, appeared two years later and continued to experiment with literary forms throughout his career, publishing poetry, fictions, and essays. Some of his other popular novels included Giovanni’s Room, The Fire Next Time, Another Country, and If Beale Street Could Talk, which adapted into an Academy Award-winning film in 2018. In 2016, an unfinished manuscript by Baldwin called Remember This House was expanded and adapted for cinema as the documentary film I Am Not Your Negro.

Baldwin’s work focuses on personal questions and dilemmas amid difficult social and psychological issues. Common themes of masculinity, sexuality, race, and class were main narratives in his works and some of the major political movements toward social change in mid-twentieth century America, such as the civil rights movement and the gay liberation movement. Baldwin’s protagonists are often but not exclusively African American, and gay and bisexual men were frequently featured in his literature. These characters often face internal and external obstacles in their search for social and self-acceptance.

Baldwin left the United States at the age of 24 and settled in Paris to see himself and his writing outside of an African-American context and escape the American prejudice again Black people. He wanted not to be read as “merely a Negro; or, even, merely a Negro writer.” Baldwin spent nine years living in Paris, mostly in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, with various excursions to Switzerland, Spain, and back to the United States in 1957. He eventually settled back to Saint-Paul-de-Vence in the south of France in 1970, were he lived and worked for the rest of his life until his death in 1987. (Source)

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