Happy Birthday, Truman Capote!


Truman Capote

Truman Garcia Capote born Truman Streckfus Persons, (September 30, 1924 – August 25, 1984) was an American novelist, screenwriter, playwright, and actor. Many of Capote’s short stories, novels, plays, and nonfiction are recognized as literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958) and the true crime novel In Cold Blood (1966), which he labeled a “nonfiction novel”.  At least 20 films and television dramas have been produced of Capote novels, stories, and plays.


QUOTES

“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.”

“Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act.”

“Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go”

From Wikipedia and MomAdvice.

Happy Birthday, Sir William Golding!


Sir William Gerald Golding CBE (19 September 1911 – 19 June 1993) was a British novelist, playwright, and poet. Best known for his novel Lord of the Flies, he won a Nobel Prize in Literature and was also awarded the Booker Prize for fiction in 1980 for his novel Rites of Passage, the first book in what became his sea trilogy, To the Ends of the Earth.

Golding was knighted in 1988. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 2008, The Times ranked Golding third on their list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945.”


QUOTES

“Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.”

“The greatest ideas are the simplest.”

“My yesterdays walk with me. They keep step, they are gray faces that peer over my shoulder.”

 

From Wikipedia and Google.

Happy Birthday, Honoré de Balzac!

de Balzac

 

Honoré de Balzac (born Honoré Balzac, 20 May 1799 – 18 August 1850) was a French author/novelist and playwright. The novel sequence La Comédie Humaine, which presents a panorama of post-Napoleonic French life, is generally viewed as his magnum opus.

Owing to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multi-faceted characters; even his lesser characters are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human. Inanimate objects are imbued with character as well; the city of Paris, a backdrop for much of his writing, takes on many human qualities. His writing influenced many famous writers, including the novelists Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert, Jack Kerouac, and Henry James.

 

 

From Google/Wikipedia

Happy Birthday, Lorraine Hansberry!


 

Lorraine Hansberry

Image from Pinterest


Lorraine Hansberry was born at Provident Hospital on the South Side of Chicago on May 19, 1930. She was the youngest of Nannie Perry Hansberry and Carl Augustus Hansberry’s four children. Her father founded Lake Street Bank, one of the first banks for blacks in Chicago, and ran a successful real estate business. Her uncle was William Leo Hansberry, a scholar of African studies at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Many prominent African-American social and political leaders visited the Hansberry household during Lorraine’s childhood including sociology professor W.E.B. DuBois, poet Langston Hughes, actor and political activist Paul Robeson, musician Duke Ellington and Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens.

Lorraine Hansberry photoDespite their middle-class status, the Hansberrys were subject to segregation. When she was 8 years old, Hansberry’s family deliberately attempted to move into a restricted neighborhood. Restrictive covenants, in which white property owners agreed not to sell to blacks, created a ghetto known as the “Black Belt” on Chicago’s South Side. Carl Hansberry, with the help of Harry H. Pace, president of the Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company and several white realtors, secretly bought property at 413 E. 60th Street and 6140 S. Rhodes Avenue. The Hansberrys moved into the house on Rhodes Avenue in May 1937. The family was threatened by a white mob, which threw a brick through a window, narrowly missing Lorraine. The Supreme Court of Illinois upheld the legality of the restrictive covenant and forced the family to leave the house. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decision on a legal technicality. The result was the opening of 30 blocks of South Side Chicago to African Americans. Although the case did not argue that racially restrict covenants were unlawful, it marked the beginning of their end.

Hansberry Decision

Image from Chicago Public Library

Lorraine graduated from Englewood High School in Chicago, where she first became interested in theater. She enrolled in the University of Wisconsin but left before completing her degree. After studying painting in Chicago and Mexico, Hansberry moved to New York in 1950 to begin her career as a writer. She wrote for Paul Robeson’s Freedom, a progressive publication, which put her in contact with other literary and political mentors such as W.E.B. DuBois and Freedom editor Louis Burnham. During a protest against racial discrimination at New York University, she met Robert Nemiroff, a Jewish writer who shared her political views. They married on June 20, 1953, at the Hansberrys’ home in Chicago.

In 1956, her husband and Burt D’Lugoff wrote the hit song, “Cindy, Oh Cindy.” Its profits allowed Hansberry to quit working and devote herself to writing. She then began a play she called The Crystal Stair, from Langston Hughes’ poem “Mother to Son.” She later retitled it A Raisin in the Sun from Hughes’ poem, “Harlem: A Dream Deferred.”

A Raisin in the Sun playbillIn A Raisin in the Sun, the first play written by an African-American to be produced on Broadway, she drew upon the lives of the working-class black people who rented from her father and who went to school with her on Chicago’s South Side. She also used members of her family as inspiration for her characters. Hansberry noted similarities between Nannie Hansberry and Mama Younger and between Carl Hansberry and Big Walter. Walter Lee, Jr. and Ruth are composites of Hansberry’s brothers, their wives, and her sister, Mamie. In an interview, Hansberry laughingly said, “Beneatha is me, eight years ago.”

Her second play, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, about a Jewish intellectual, ran on Broadway for 101 performances. It received mixed reviews. Her friends rallied to keep the play running. It closed on January 12, 1965, the day Hansberry died of cancer at age 35.

Although Hansberry and Nemiroff divorced before her death, he remained dedicated to her work. As literary executor, he edited and published her three unfinished plays: Les Blancs, The Drinking Gourd and What Use Are Flowers? He also collected Hansberry’s unpublished writings, speeches, and journal entries and presented them in the autobiographical montage To Be Young, Gifted and Black. The title is taken from a speech given by Hansberry in May 1964 to winners of a United Negro Fund writing competition: “…though it be thrilling and marvelous thing to be merely young and gifted in such times, it is doubly so, doubly dynamic, to be young, gifted and black!

Young, Gifted, and Black

From Chicago Public Library

 

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Quotable! – Langston Hughes 1902-1967


Langston Hughes

James Mercer Langston Hughes – an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry. Image from NYDailynews.


“I swear to the Lord I still can’t see why Democracy means Everybody but me.”

 “An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose.”

 “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”

 “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?… Or does it explode?”

 “I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go.”