Today, we celebrate James Baldwin.

From Wikipedia:

Inspiration and relationships

One source of support came from an admired older writer Richard Wright, whom he called “the greatest black writer in the world.” Wright and Baldwin became friends for a short time and Wright helped him to secure the Eugene F. Saxon Memorial Award. Baldwin titled a collection of essays Notes of a Native Son, in clear reference to Wright’s novel Native Son. However, Baldwin’s 1949 essay “Everybody’s Protest Novel” ended the two authors’ friendship[5] because Baldwin asserted that Wright’s novel Native Son, like Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, lacked credible characters and psychological complexity. However, during an interview with Julius Lester,[6] Baldwin explained that his adoration for Wright remained: “I knew Richard and I loved him. I was not attacking him; I was trying to clarify something for myself.”

1949 was also the year he met and fell in love with Lucien Happersberger. The boy was a seventeen-year-old runaway, and the two became very close, until Happersberger’s marriage three years later, an event that left Baldwin devastated.

Another major influence on Baldwin’s life was the African-American painter Beauford Delaney. In The Price of the Ticket (1985), Baldwin describes Delaney as “the first living proof, for me, that a black man could be an artist. In a warmer time, a less blasphemous place, he would have been recognized as my teacher and I as his pupil. He became, for me, an example of courage and integrity, humility and passion. An absolute integrity: I saw him shaken many times and I lived to see him broken but I never saw him bow.”

Baldwin was a close friend of the singer, pianist and civil rights activist Nina Simone. Together with Langston Hughes and Lorraine Hansberry, Baldwin is responsible for making Simone aware of the civil rights movement that was forming at that time to fight racial inequality. He also provided her with literary references that influenced her later work.

Baldwin also had an influence on the work of the french painter Philippe Derome who he met in Paris at the beginning of 1960s.

Maya Angelou called Baldwin her “friend and brother”, and credited him for “setting the stage” for the writing of her 1969 autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

James Baldwin in a 3 part interview with Kenneth Clark.


* 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)
* Going to Meet the Man (stories; 1965) published in the UK by Michael Joseph, dustjacket designed by David Battle.
* Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone (novel; 1968)
* No Name in the Street (essays; 1972)
* If Beale Street Could Talk (novel; 1974)
* The Devil Finds Work (essays; 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)
* Harlem Quartet (novel; 1987)

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