Ralph Ellison

From Academic Kids

Ralph Ellison (March 1, 1914April 16, 1994) was an African American scholar and writer. He was born Ralph Waldo Ellison in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, named by his father after Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ellison was best known for his novel Invisible Man (ISBN 0679601392), which won the National Book Award in 1953. He also wrote Shadow and Act (1964) and Going to the Territory (1986).

In 1933 Ellison entered Tuskegee Institute on a scholarship to study music. He had hopes of writing a symphony. Due to financial issues, Ellison was forced to leave Tuskegee after 3 years. In 1936 Ellison moved to New York City where he met Richard Wright. Wright encouraged , Ellison to persue a career in writing rather than a career in music.

From 1937 to 1944 Ellison had over twenty book reviews as well as short stories and articles published in magizines such as New Challenge and New Masses. During WWII Ellison joined the Merchant Marines and married Fanny McConnell in 1946.

The Invisible Man explores the theme of manís search for his identity and his place in society from the perspective of a black man in the New York City of the 1940ís. In contrast to his contempararies such as Richard Wright, whose charaters were portraid as angry, uneducated and inarticulate, Ellisonís characters in The Invisible Man are educated, articulate and self aware.

Ellisonís Invisible Man won the National Book Award in 1953. Ellison has also been awarded the Langston Hughes Medal, the Metal of Freedom, the Rosenwald Grant, the Russwurm Award and the Chevalier de líOrdre des Artes et Lettres. He also wrote Shadow and Act (1964) a collection of political, social and critical essays and Going to the Territory (1986).

Ellison was also an accomplished sculptor, musicain and photographer as well as a college professor. Ellison taught at Bard College, Rutgers, the University of Chicago, and New York University.

Ralph Ellison died of pancreatic cancer on April 16, 1994, and is buried in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City.

Five years after his death, under the editorship of John Callahan, a professor at Lewis and Clark College and Ellison's literary executor, Ellison's second novel, Juneteenth (ISBN 0394464575), was published. It was a 368-page condensation of over 2000 pages written over a period of forty years.

Related works

  • Trading Twelves: The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray (with Albert Murray) (ISBN 0375503676)
  • Living with Music: Ralph Ellison's Jazz Writings (ISBN 0679640347)
  • The Collected Essays of Ralph Ellison (1995, ISBN 0679601767)
  • Flying Home: and Other Stories (1996)

See also

de:Ralph Ellison
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