Ralph Ellison (1 March, 1914 – 16 April, 1994) was an award winning novelist, critic and scholar known for his novel Invisible Man.
- Born in Oklahoma City, OK, he was the grandson of slaves.
- His middle name was Waldo, and yes, he was named after Ralph Waldo Emerson.
- Ellison played his first musical instrument, a cornet, at the age of 8 years old.
- After high school, Mr. Ellison enrolled in the Tuskegee Institute as a music major. Unfortunately for the music world, but fortunately for the literary world, Mr. Ellison never finished his studies, but stayed in New York City to write.
- When World War II broke out, Mr. Ellison joined the U.S. Merchant Marine as a cook, fighting in the North Atlantic.
- Even though he had some communist sympathies, after the war he lost his faith as he felt the party betrayed African Americans.
- In 1952 his first novel, Invisible Man, was published to much success. It stayed on the best-seller list for 16 weeks and won the National Book Award.
- In 1967 a major house fire destroyed 300 pages of Mr. Ellison’s second novel. Even though he later wrote more than 2,000 pages, the novel was never finished.
- The work became his second novel, Juneteenth, which was published posthumously in 1994.
- Ellison died of pancreatic cancer, and is interred in a crypt at Trinity Church Cemetery, Manhattan.
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