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Wallace Henry Thurman was an African-American writer best known for his contributions to the Harlem Renaissance.
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Wallace Henry Thurman was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on August 16, 1902. After breaking into the journalism business in Los Angeles, California, Thurman relocated to New York City and became an active participant in the Harlem Renaissance. He edited and wrote plays, opinion pieces and several novels, including The Blacker the Berry: A Novel of Negro Life (1929). Thurman died in New York City on December 22, 1934.
Wallace Henry Thurman was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on August 16, 1902. His father abandoned the family shortly after Thurman's birth, briefly reuniting with his son three decades later. Thurman's mother married and divorced a number of times during his youth, sometimes sending Thurman to live with his grandmother, Emma Jackson, who ran an illegal bar out of her home.
Thurman was a sickly child. He attended school intermittently, dropping out for years at a time to recover from bouts of illness and frequent heart attacks, but his health later improved and he was able to finish high school in Salt Lake City. He attended the University of Utah and the University of Southern California, though never completed a degree. While living in Los Angeles, California, Thurman worked as a newspaper reporter and founded a magazine, Outlet, intended to be a West Coast equivalent to the NAACP publication The Crisis.
In 1925, Thurman moved to Harlem, New York. Over the next decade, he worked as an editor and a writer of novels, plays and journalistic articles. In 1926, he became editor of The Messenger, a socialist journal targeting African-American readers. He also co-founded the literary magazine Fire!!, which published the work of Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Gwendolyn Bennett. The magazine took an opposing view to African-American leaders such as W.E.B. Du Bois, who championed social equality and racial integration. Thurman argued that African-American artists should embrace expression on their own terms, rather than as a way of appealing to Anglo-American respectability.
Thurman's apartment in Harlem served as a central meeting place for African-American authors and artists. Thurman referred to the room as "Niggerati Manor" and had it painted black and red, with murals adorning the walls.
Literary works produced by Thurman include Harlem, a play that debuted on Broadway in 1929, and the novels The Blacker the Berry: A Novel of Negro Life (1929) and Infants of the Spring (1932). Thurman has gained increasing critical acclaim since his death, particularly for his work in The Blacker the Berry.
Thurman married Louise Thompson on August 22, 1928. The marriage lasted six months and produced one child. When they divorced, Thompson stated that Thurman was a closeted homosexual.
Thurman died in New York City on December 22, 1934, at the age of 32. Though the cause of death was officially ruled as tuberculosis, Thurman's condition may have been exacerbated by alcoholism.
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They are the famous African-American writers who have fearlessly examined cultural stigmas, provided intimate life details, presented new ideas and created remarkable fiction through literary works. For their prophetic genius, these men and women have received Pulitzer Prizes, NAACP awards and even Nobel Prizes, among other honors. Our list of prominent African-American authors includes Toni Morrison, who has detailed the lives of black characters who struggle with identity amidst racism and hostility; Langston Hughes, a founder of the Harlem Renaissance; and Maya Angelou, who has eloquently chronicled various eras of her life through her autobiographies.
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During the early 20th century, African-American poets, musicians, actors, artists and intellectuals moved to Harlem in New York City and brought new ideas that shifted the culture forever. From approximately 1918 to the mid 1930s, talent began to overflow within this newfound culture of the black community in Harlem, as prominent figures—Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday, to name a few—pushed art to its limit as a form of expression and representation. These are some of the famous African Americans who shaped the influential movement known as the Harlem Renaissance.
Famous Harlem Renaissance People 22 people in this group