November 29th, 2006
James Baldwin
About the Author

Although he spent a great deal of his life abroad, James Baldwin always remained a quintessentially American writer. Whether he was working in Paris or Istanbul, he never ceased to reflect on his experience as a black man in white America. In numerous essays, novels, plays and public speeches, the eloquent voice of James Baldwin spoke of the pain and struggle of black Americans and the saving power of brotherhood.

James Baldwin — the grandson of a slave — was born in Harlem in 1924. The oldest of nine children, he grew up in poverty, developing a troubled relationship with his strict, religious stepfather. As a child, he cast about for a way to escape his circumstances. As he recalls, “I knew I was black, of course, but I also knew I was smart. I didn’t know how I would use my mind, or even if I could, but that was the only thing I had to use.” By the time he was fourteen, Baldwin was spending much of his time in libraries and had found his passion for writing.

During this early part of his life, he followed in his stepfather’s footsteps and became a preacher. Of those teen years, Baldwin recalled, “Those three years in the pulpit – I didn’t realize it then – that is what turned me into a writer, really, dealing with all that anguish and that despair and that beauty.” Many have noted the strong influence of the language of the church, the language of the Bible, on Baldwin’s style: its cadences and tone. Eager to move on, Baldwin knew that if he left the pulpit he must also leave home, so at eighteen he took a job working for the New Jersey railroad.

After working for a short while with the railroad, Baldwin moved to Greenwich Village, where he worked for a number of years as a freelance writer, working primarily on book reviews. He caught the attention of the well-known novelist, Richard Wright – and though Baldwin had not yet finished a novel, Wright helped him secure a grant with which he could support himself as a writer. In 1948, at age 24, Baldwin left for Paris, where he hoped to find enough distance from the American society he grew up in to write about it.

After writing a number of pieces for various magazines, Baldwin went to a small village in Switzerland to finish his first novel. Go Tell It on the Mountain, published in 1953, was an autobiographical work about growing up in Harlem. The passion and depth with which he described the struggles of black Americans were unlike anything that had been written. Though not instantly recognized as such, Go Tell It on the Mountain has long been considered an American classic.

Over the next ten years, Baldwin moved from Paris to New York to Istanbul, writing two books of essays, Notes of a Native Son (1955) and Nobody Knows My Name (1961), as well as two novels, Giovanni’s Room (1956) and Another Country (1962). The essays explored racial tension with eloquence and unprecedented honesty; the novels dealt with taboo themes (homosexuality and interracial relationships). By describing life as he knew it, Baldwin created socially relevant, psychologically penetrating literature … and readers responded. Both Nobody Knows My Name and Another Country became immediate bestsellers.

Being abroad gave Baldwin a perspective on the life he’d left behind and a solitary freedom to pursue his craft. “Once you find yourself in another civilization,” he notes, “you’re forced to examine your own.” In a sense, Baldwin’s travels brought him even closer to the social concerns of contemporary America. In the early 1960s, overwhelmed by a sense of responsibility to the times, Baldwin returned to take part in the civil rights movement. Traveling throughout the South, he began work on an explosive work about black identity and the state of racial struggle, The Fire Next Time (1963). This, too, was a bestseller: so incendiary that it put Baldwin on the cover of TIME Magazine. For many, Baldwin’s clarion call for human equality – in the essays of Notes of a Native Son, Nobody Knows My Name and The Fire Next Time – became an early and essential voice in the civil rights movement. Though at times criticized for his pacifist stance, Baldwin remained an important figure in that struggle throughout the 1960s.

After the assassinations of his friends Medgar Evers, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, Baldwin returned to St. Paul de Vence, France, where he worked on a book about the disillusionment of the times, If Beale Street Could Talk (1974). Many responded to the harsh tone of If Beale Street Could Talk with accusations of bitterness – but even though Baldwin had encapsulated much of the anger of the times in his book, he always remained a constant advocate for universal love and brotherhood. During the last ten years of his life, he produced a number of important works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. He also turned to teaching as a new way of connecting with the young.

By 1987, when he died of stomach cancer at age 63, James Baldwin had become one of the most important and vocal advocates for equality. From Go Tell It on the Mountain to The Evidence of Things Not Seen (1985), James Baldwin created works of literary beauty and depth that will remain essential parts of the American canon.

  • K. L. Heyward

    By far the most interesting writer of the 20th century , his life, his fabulous way with words and his well thought out opions.Will never be forgotten.



  • Linkavich Chamalskey

    Was James Balwin A homosexual? Just wondering.

  • Thiago Russo

    Yes, he was a homosexual.

  • jake

    i have to do a project on james baldwin :(

  • Ricky White

    i got to do some research on James Baldwin, and from what i came up with this guy was remarkable. I can’t wait to get the rest of his work. fromm what i have read so far i truly think everybody should reasd this, it is highily recomended. please read….

  • Zenzile

    He was one of the smartest black writers of his time and his work is limitless in it’s timeless application to current events and the condition of America today

  • Joshuwa

    I have been a baldwin since I was very young and have always enjoyed is stance on major social issues. His ability to be himself has inspired so many of us to be ourself and if not then at least myself, there is no human being alive that should be unable to realize his stunning impact on writing on storyes and on standards for which one can only believe that could excel to with the greatest of assitance. this assistance perhaps is what baldwin felt from his travls and i do hope that i find myself on the path of the journey he undertook.

  • george washington

    like seriously was he a homosexual please respond

  • Tashia

    When is episode is going to air on my local PBS sation? I never got a chance to view it I feel at times that I am held captive by my local pbs sation. I want to see this program about James Baldwin and Truman Capote,and others I tried to ask the local pbs staion put they never answer me back.It sounds like something worth seeing I hope to see one day.

  • ishaq harris

    james baldwin you are a great writer your story was great

  • beaverhousen

    im doing him for a research project hes a very well known author so i want to give him props for that never read any of his work though but i will eventually…………………………………………………………………………

  • Amanda

    Someone asked “Was he homosexual.” Ordinarily I’d say “does it matter?” but since a few of his works deal with the topic, he was, read his book “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” it’s an autobiography and should help you.

  • Melvin Hinton

    “Go Tell It on the Mountain” is not an autobiography. It might be called an “autobiographical” novel, since it is a novel, Baldwin’s first. –Melvin Hinton

  • Yinka

    I watched the documentary Baldwin’s Nigger recently and found Mr Baldwin to be very compelling in his speech. At no stage did I get the impression that he was forcing his views on anyone, but, made his point as honestly as he knew it. A honest man who pursued a cause he believed in as I believe in today. Thank GOD for great men like him.

  • bianca

    just wondering about this, but can anyone tell me who wrote this article

  • sean reynolds

    I would like to buy this. Anybody know where I can find it?

  • miguel abreu andrews

    I have a project from english composition 2 my topic was designed to me from my professor i was the only one who got it, i felt kind of ofended, because he knew i am gay and i will be more comfortable with this biography, anyway i have enjoy it to the highes. i have learn so much about faith,hope and be always proud and stand for your rights and freedom as americans. and i am very proud to be part of his history a young black/spanish/american. R.I.P MR open the doors to gay community and others aspects.

  • jojo

    james baldeim is ome of the smartest black men out there!!! i have to do a project on him and i am quite elated to have him as my topic!!:))

  • Carlos

    James Baldwin was the intellectual of intellectuals because he wrote from two unique perspectives or oppressed identities — black and gay. This made him one of America’s (black, white, brown or yellow; man or woman) most talented literary figures of all times.

  • Sahr Fatorma

    Baldwin is a name I will never forget; back in Africa during my undergraduate years, especially in the American Literature class,my teacher used to talk about him and other American writers.As a U.S. permanent resident, I do feel the positive effects of the contributions made by the likes of Baldwin in terms of race relations. RIP Baldwin!

  • lakesia mccray

    wat was he an win did he die

  • kitttpo

    I love James Baldwin’s books…….. HE ROCKS………..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

  • Wade

    I too love James Baldwin. Often I question if people fully comprehend the true meaning of what he wanted people (especially black people) to understand about racial-identity,gender,sexuality, religion and how they are all intertwine; used in stopping self-liberation. How we’ve become stuck in understanding why taboo’s exist on sexuality. How love (self-love) is the greatest love of all in a society that continues to perpetuate stereotypes, and bind us on a path of settling are conscienceless of self loathing without resolving questions like: who has the rights to define and interpret loves individuality? when is living not and when do you start liberating your self-love,in order to survive and enjoy life? Why is religious persecution used to control and dictate righteousness against the spirit of humanist that exist in all of us to evolve?

  • Sarah Devore

    if i dident have to help my lil girl withhe project fI would not have found out about such a important man

  • Ebony

    Your awesome i love you god have mercy on your soul… In a good way…!

  • jake

    you are my FAVORITE writer in the entire WORLD. I LOVE YOUR BOOKS

  • James Whitter

    James Baldwin was a great african American writer. People fail to realize that. They only focus on the hip popular writers now. If you read James Baldwin’s work then to you and me he is still here. RIP J.B

  • Bonnielicious

    R.I.P I love your work james I can’t go a day without reading your work

  • Soraya F.

    Many say that there will probably never be a Shakespear again, and that is true. But to say that there will never be another writer as good, and meaningful as Shakespear is not, James Baldwin and many others have proved this. I wish I could meet such an amazing person.

  • lola

    even though im only elleven i see the importance of this mans words . i was forced to do a report on a african american who changed history i couldnt have chosen a better man!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • cord

    you are very good writer R.I.P James Baldwin

  • estefany

    I’am soo inpresed with james Baldwin he was an aswome men he’s mom was a slave and his step father didn’t treat him well and still he became a famous men that everyone loved he was an aswome men love him..

  • jose

    this author has open the doors to me

  • johnathan

    im doing a project on james Baldwin and he’s really intresting

  • Eric

    Baldwin was a profound thinker and great American, and I am somewhat puzzled about all of the references to him being a great “black” or “African-American” writer. Whether you realize it or not, these labels marginalize him and his work. His works are tremendously meaningful and inspiring, no matter what his skin color may have been. Of course, he offers perspicacious insight into being black in America, but he writes about the human condition.

  • reader45545454

    I am doing a project on James Baldwin

  • laticka

    go tell it on the mountain was pointless.

  • niquez

    i am doin a project on him 2 && i never knew that the was a homosexual


    I love baldwin he is exact, and for real not a fake. reading his books essays etc put your imagination to work for you feel what he was writing. black people whites should read him and they will identify with him. i would love to see what he could of written if he had not passed,i love jim and so should those wanting to know about the black experience.

  • Ray

    I am doing a class project on James Baldwin

  • Blair Jones

    Mr. Baldwin was a remarkable American writer. With ambition. He is also my Cousin.

  • reader sc

    go tell it on the mountain was not pointless
    u obviously did not read it with the attention that you should have, but baldwin was a remarkable man…but if any one noes what harlem renaissance figures baldwin listend to in switzerland…it would be a great help im doing a project on him as well =]

  • Rashod Mathis

    wow this relly give me some information I “love” this website THANKS!

  • charles

    when i read sonny’s blues, by james baldwin i was so impressed that i started crying, because its as if he was writing about me.

  • Kendra

    I had to read Go Tell it on the Mountain for English, it was a good book but very hard to follow and understand.

  • NikoMilo

    Hi was he a free mason,.. i know he was homosexual. also a reverend in a church and a close associate of Dr. Marin Luther King

  • Sara Cooper

    Baldwin writes with such emotion and yet never forces the pathos inherent in what he is writing. Magnificent. Brilliant. I so wish I was old enough to have met him! Genius.

  • john

    this was great man just great

  • belinda ruiz

    i have to do a project over him, not thrilled, but i am interested :)

  • charlene

    I have a class paper to write on Baldwin and I only read one short story “Sonny’s Blues” I would like more information on him.

  • tiesha

    james baldwin was a good man. in had a good life that he was living.I think from reading this passage he was a loving in caring man. He will be well miss today after reading his story.

  • Lynn

    What does it matter regarding his sexual orientation? It did not define him and is of little consequence. His body of work speaks for itself. He is a great writer.

  • Alataua Tamafuta

    I’m doing a multimedia project on James Baldwin, and so far his books is straight from the heart….

  • Richard Chessman

    The greatest American poet. I am a white man in my 20’s yet I empathise with him wholly.

  • Abby

    these are good books. you are the best poet out there.

  • Liz K

    Growing up in an abusive and repressed and religious family, even though I’m white, James Baldwin’s books are very important to me. He is a voice of hope and freedom in the night.



  • Mr. FAMU

    He is first and foremost a great WRITER. Then a great AMERICAN WRITER. And then A great BLACK writer or great African American writer. One of the best actually. Neither one of those distinctions is more valid than the other. His a writer and a very talented and deeply moving one.

  • jj

    WAS HE a homosexual or not?

    It’s a tough question. Baldwin himself did not have a direct answer. In an interview, he told a reporter that he did not identify as a homosexual, but that he had loved many people, both men and women (similar to something James Dean said, but Dean is not generally thought of as a “gay actor”). You should remember when you ask this question that many, many people have sex with others of the same sex and are not necessarily identifiable as gay.

  • ella

    Is he the one who quoted “it’s better to travel than arrive” ?

  • Scott

    For those of you out there who like to label; Jimmy was indeed homosexual ( read Giovannies Room) but he
    surpassed any definition that people are comfortable
    with as you can tell by his work (notes of a native son) . People who only read because of having school
    assignments due or read to have suto impressive sounding conversation at partys completly miss the point. Jimmy was the closest thing to a “race” prophet
    if there ever was one and from his short stories to
    his final novel,celebrated blackness not just as a race of folks,but as part of a cultural tapestry that
    has its story just as every other culture has their
    story, no better no worse.

  • Tyrone Henderson

    Baldwin,a true native son as well the real fire next time. I feel lov of him in his work.This man gave his soul,spirit and heart to us, i find him as a refreshing quencher for the thrist of truth.I have a strong love for the troth Baldwin gave it up. tyrone henderson

  • Richard Chessman

    Baldwin should get more recognition: as much as other writers of his generation like Capote, Mailer and Vidal do. I found out about him “accidentally”, which is criminal, as his name should be on everyone’s lips like those authors aforementioned. He was arguably the greatest wordsmith of the 20th century.

  • Lloyd

    Thank God for James Baldwin. I wish he were still alive today! Yes, he was both black and gay which respectively are traditionally the most hated group and the currently the most hated group of people in America. Equality and total acceptance for both of these groups cannot possibly come soon enough!!!

  • Vikky

    I have recently discovered James Baldwin. I am completely blown away by this man’s passion, honesty, eloquence and humour. Glad I haven’t read any of his work, because now I have these exciting stories to discover. Can’t wait to learn from him. Bless you James.

  • aitbenali

    baldwin is a contoversial writer who sometimes joins those who support brotherhood between whites and blacks and at the same time he sides with his ethnic group feeling and trying to understand their deep pains and suffering. critics are often confronted with this great confusion, but what he really wants is in fact to spread racial love inspired from the religious one for a universal peace.

  • Arnold

    James Baldwin was one of the few writers whose purpose was to deconstuct and dismantle white supremacy. Like his predecessor Frantz Fanon he understood in order for all to be free a decolonizing of the mind is needed. And here we are at the beginnings of decolonizing our brains. Leaving behind Eurocentric ideas about race, religion and sex.


    How can I get a copy of the PBS documentary on James Baldwin in which, near the close, he decried despair “because one can never tell a child that there is no hope!”


    How can I get a copy of the PBS documentary on James Baldwin.

  • Rukhsana

    James,is a true black American, what he suffered in his life, he wrote in his books.

  • Yvette

    How glad I am to be literate and able to have experienced the writings of James Baldwin.

  • Anthony Rashad

    For me James Baldwin is one of the greatest American writers.How glad I am to be literate and able to have experienced the writings of James Baldwin.I feel love of him in his work.This man gave his soul,spirit and heart to his reader, i find him as a refreshing quencher for the thirst of truth.

  • Margy Wilkinson

    In No Name in the Street Baldwin talks about his friend Tony Maynard. Does anyone know what happened to Maynard or have any suggestions about how I can find out? Thanks very much

  • Erica

    James Baldwin sounds like a remarkable man. I read this short bio about him for my english homework. I hope that we learn some more about him in class.

  • Sachit Shetty

    First and foremost, Rest in Peace… Your legacy is being carried on friend…
    2. If you care about whether he was gay or not, then you have clearly missed the point of his writing or you have not read it yet.
    3. This man was a genius, and he was able to do it by being conscious and self-aware.
    4. I sincerely regret that I was not able to talk to him, due to the fact that I was born two years after his death.
    5. If all the people in the world could understand the meat of his writing and the lessons he has to teach, than this world would be devoid of problems.
    (Comment back whether you agree or disagree I would love to discuss these thoughts)

  • George Kofi Mude

    As a young man, when I read Baldwin’s ‘Tell Me How Long The Train’s Been Gone’, it captivated me and opened my eyes to depths I had never imagined. It was the first book that brought tears to my eyes. Baldwin is|was a great writer, pure genius.

  • Keven Kurt Kevingston

    Nice writing this man wrote.
    I like it alot.
    Going to the bookstore this afternoon.
    Gunna pick up a copy.
    Envy his talent.
    Raw taent, yet so good.

    Does any one know if he won any prizes?
    I would like to know.
    Envy him if he won any prizes as well.

  • Tania Clement

    Im a Student at Brooklyn College, and one of my assignment were to write a paper on Mr. Baldwin. Granted I dont like reading as much but I found Mr. Baldwin such an amazing writer. I liked the way he captured my attention with life experiences of his on as well as society. Everything seemed so real. I wish I have had a chance to meet him, but unfortunaltely he had to leave us. I’m leaving this comment because I’m pretty sure there is a lot of individuals in this world today who really dont like to read books, but I feel that if they would read at least one of his books they will absolutely love the enjoyment of reading. Thanks Mr.Baldwin and may you R.I.P Tania C from Brooklyn NY

  • Kristi Thomas

    Of the few works that i have read of his, James Baldwin as greatly broadened my saddness for what happened to the African Americans during the civil rights movement. I can proudly say that he is one of my idols for the things he did, and the things he wrote about with the intentions to better this country, or better yet the world. His works will continue to prove what happened in the history of our country to the generations to come. im just sad i couldnt have the honor of shaking his hand while he was still with us. RIP James Baldwin

  • ms.CAU


  • Brandi Harris

    I came across his name and a quote of his.”you can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a nigger”.I have 2 bi-racial kids,a 17 y/o daughter and an 11 y/o son. My son has been called the “N” word so much he got sick of it and retaliated today on the bus home. The kid called him the “N” word twice and my son, when getting off the bus,whacked the kid in the face with his trumpet case. My son is an excellent student, a brown belt in Martial Arts, and first chair in 5th grade band. I just cant stand ignorant people, because you know they’re getting it from their parents!


    I have to write a paper on James Baldwin, and I must say that through all the pictures I have seen of him this is the best one, I am also reading his book now, I had to buy it. Because his words are to be read over and over again.
    To remind us where we came from, what we have gone through and still have yet to go through.

    His works are to never be forgotten.

  • anna

    I have to make a slide on him. And so far i’m learning alot about him and his books. For one slide i put a summery of 1 of his books so i read it and got really attached.

  • larry

    o my goooooood his books were like bombastic. i couldentstop miself from reading. He gets a double rainbow from me.


    My favorite story by him is “Come Out the Wilderness” Has anyone read this and what do you think about it?

  • Audriana

    Does anyone have any idea what his parents names were because i have seriously looked EVERY WHERE!!!!!

  • robert young

    i am a 8th grader at sunrise middle school in ft.lauderdale,florida and i am doin a report on james baldwin and i have to sy this man has came a long way…………………

  • robert young

    i am a 8th grader at sunrise middle school in ft.lauderdale,florida and i am doin a report on james baldwin and i have to say this man has came a long way…………………and he’s also a great writer.his books are sooooooooooo awsome that all i could say is well-done and good job…….

  • Robert

    Strong, straightforward, survivor, and intellectual, Mr. Baldwin had the qualities to empower people and left a legacy of empowerment behind. To have gone through that time period of injustices to face as a black as a homosexual and to make the accomplishments and to assert such logical and rational thinking and to have your self – esteem still in tact after all the times people made you feel like you weren’t human really say’s a lot about this extraordinary human being. Dont you agree?

  • Rebecca

    I am currently working on my Senior thesis for my Bachelor’s Degree, and chose James Baldwin. No doubt, he was an exceptionally compassionate and gifted man, who continues to speak to ALL of us within his writing.

  • Bobby

    James Baldwin was an exceptionally compassionate and gifted man. He also founded Baldwin High School.

  • Demetra Mozgala

    I love Sonny With A Chance, I’d have to say my favorite on the show is Sonny, I’m hooked on the show! Thanks for your post!

  • bobby bousche

    WOOOO Alec baldwin is the best actor who ever lived

  • shadeed ahmad

    James Baldwin elevates the English language in its written and spoken dimensions to miraculous nobility. He is beyond racial categorization of what a n excellent writer’s impact is on a reader. To experience Mr. Baldwin is to have been blessed with an example of one of the finer things of life. To miss his art is to have missed an important opportunity to stimulate the art within yourself. I truly miss “The Maestro of Prose, ” James Baldwin. Sincerely, Shadeed R. Ahmad (3-26-10)

  • shadeed ahmad

    James Baldwin elevates the English language in its written and spoken dimensions to miraculous nobility. He is beyond racial categorization of what a n excellent writer’s impact is on a reader. To experience Mr. Baldwin is to have been blessed with an example of one of the finer things of life. To miss his art is to have missed an important opportunity to stimulate the art within yourself. I truly miss “The Maestro of Prose, ” James Baldwin. Sincerely, Shadeed R. Ahmad (3-28-10)

  • Paige

    I just had to do a presentation on Baldwin and i have to say this man was amazing. He made me view everything so much better. I am in no way, shape, or form racist against gays, or blacks, i view everyone the same and it was great to hear his thoughts of everything. He was so remarkable and i wish i had the chance to meet him. He is definitely a great man to do a paper or presentation on, i definitely recommend it, plus the information on him is endless!

  • Samuel Ephrem

    If you love James Baldwin like I do watch his debate with the late W. F. Buckley that took place in Cambridge debate hall sometime in the early sixties . This was one of the most dramatic and interesting debates I have seen in quite sometime. It makes me wonder where all the talent for this kind of oratory went.

  • Pearl Brisco

    Someone asked if Mr Baldwin was a homosexual. If I disagree with his preference or not, what does that have to do with all that he has given to the world. Maybe if we were not always judging people for other than who they, we would have a better world. We all must leave this world one day. Do you want to be remembered for your preferences or would you want others to remember you for your love, kindness and what you meant to them as a person. Love you, Mr Baldwin, will 4-ever treasure each and every one of your works. There will never be another you. You are one talented brother.

  • Larry owens

    You should ,read A Rap On Race w/ Margaret Meade. It’s a debate / conversation between Baldwin and this revered
    sociologist.. Also the book , Dialogue with Nikki Giovanni.
    The Furious Passge of James baldwin by Fern Eckman is also good.

    I met James Baldwin In St. Louis, Mo in the early eighties. Italked with him backstage and took pics of him..So excited was I to meet him that I declared like he said to Richard Wright, that meeting him” was like meeting the gods on Mt. Olympis”! He smiled , autographed my book, “If Beale Street Could Talk”, and said, “Thank you,sir”.
    I found out later that he was related to one of my Groove Phi Groove Brothers, Senator Ralph Hughes, of the State of Maryland.

  • Puzzled in Atlanta

    What does his work The Evidence of Things Not Seen have to do with the ethics of biology? My university biology prof is having us read this & asks how it illustrates the concepts of ethics in science, among other things. I simply cannot see what, if anything, this has to do with biology and feel it is irrelevant but cannot question it for fear of being labelled racist. I ask this because perhaps I am missing something. I would appreciate input if anyone has an opinion or some insight as to the connection between the Atlanta child murder case and biology and/or ethics.

  • Jordan

    Dude are you serious with this guy being a writer he really, this guys is the worst writer in American history. I personally dont like his writing at all except for Sunny’s Blues.

  • Carmelita

    I am doing a term paper on Baldwin’s play “Sonny’s Blues”. I already read another of his books , Up above my head, which I really enjoyed. After researching his history I found him to be a very impressive and fascinating person. I was able to identify with a lot of the struggle for self identification and the courage it takes to move out on your own to find yourself. It was very inspiring to hear his story. I also love to write.Mostly poetry and I know I put a lot of my own experiences and self expressions in my writing. Maybe that’s what gives us out talents, the ability to express it into words. Thanks James Baldwin and RIP, God keep you.

  • Carmelita

    I love James Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues, and Up above my head. I hope to read more of his books and other writings. I think he has a very unique way of expression and when I read his story and his plight in becoming the writer and the man he was a resourceful and brave and very determined man who set out to find his true self in what he believed he was as a man and a writer and a human being. Love it!!!!

  • JenniferLawrence

    I had to do my 1st writting assignment this semester for Composition II on “Sonny’s Blues”. I myself has a horrible addiction to Heroin for 6 years & have been clean for 18 months on the 3rd of September. This is my 1st semester back at school since my journey into recovery. I couldnt think of a better story to read & relate too. The depth of this mans writting is phenomonal! In “Sonny’s Blues” he wrote this one paragraph about people always leaving a peice of themselves somewhere when they get out (like when he left Harlem) But that peice you leave aching at the most crazy of times. I SO get what he meant. I dunno..I sound nuts but he really hit home with me!
    God bless your soul Mr. Baldwin!

  • Alexander

    He deffinately was a smart man, but I dont like the fact that he was a homosexual.

  • maniyah

    he was a gooooood man and I think he should of deserved better !1!!!1!!!!!!!!!

  • Lumis

    Some of you are concern that he was a homosexual, if you read some of his material clearly you would of understood that it has no consequence on his work. Being a Black or African American again has no consequence on the messages in his work. He spoke the truth yes! He was thought provoking yes! He sometimes wrote as though he was in your face putting you your place.
    He wrote in a time were his work was not seen as good as those of a different persuasion. Maybe reading his material again in the different frame of mine and allow him to have a conversation with you then it might help you get a better appreciation of him…

  • matthew

    james baldwin is my hero because i am gay on the inside. and i dont care who knows it!!!!!!!

  • corine

    james baldwin intelligaince was beyond what could be understood that made him an american master.

  • cafenitro

    Was he gay? Uh…yes. He most certainly was. He did often describe himself as “homosexual”. There’s really no doubt about it and I see no reason to try to “degay” him.

  • Tanjina Chowdhury

    Wow !!!! I hate reading but, reading “STRANGER IN THE VILLAGE” by James Baldwin I was touched by his way of writing. It really opened up by eyes as to how someone can write in such a way where i felt his pain. Reading his writing made me feel anger, and hate the people he was around. I would never care enough to understand any of that beacuse it was the past. We all forgot to rember the great things in life and reading his life story made me feel that i should appriciate where i am today.

  • Teran

    Baldwin certainly was a wonderful man and I am quite honored to be doing my Junior English essay on him. I believe he made a great difference with his speeches and novels as far as the Civil Rights movement was concerned.

  • marcia petitt

    I want to purchase a copy of the American Masters James Baldwin program aired a few years ago. How can I do this and PLEASE help.


    thank you, an angel was here on earth. we didn’t know

  • Jim

    Was Sonny’s Blues autobiographical

  • Frank E. Moorer

    James Baldwin, like Henry James bbefore him, is a great American write, who explored, in a very profound way, what it means to be an American, especially a Black American in a society that sought to deny blacks a sense of presence by calling the “N” word. Baldiwin insisted on naming himself regardless what others wanted. He did not allow labels to define him. So it really does not matter whether or not he was gay or not. What does matter was Baldwin’s willingness develop his craft as a write so that he could send forth message of love and wholeness to his fellow country men and women. Time and time again he tried to hold a a mirrior to the nation so that it could seeitself

  • carme lopez

    i love him


    baldwin is bALD

  • Kathy Curie

    I’ve read alot of essays and it’s only now I’ve discovered a most fascinating one in James Baldwin. Does anyone know his exact date of birth (month, day, and year) ? Also the date of his death and place. How did he die?

    I’m just curious. He is a great writer with a brilliant mind. I go back to his first essay and always find something new to appreciate of writers, artists in general, and Life as a while. Thanks very much for this Guy.

  • Alli

    James Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924 and died on November 30, 1987 according to a webpage on the University of Illinois at Chicago site.

  • Althea and Brash 4ever

    Actually, it does matter that Mr. Baldwin was homosexual. This is an important factor in his life and proves further that he did not believe in labels. It also provides another underlying meaning when he talks about “brotherly love”. However, I don’t think that his homosexuality was a negative aspect in his career/writing/preaching/life. I think that this was another way that he showed how much he didn’t care about how other people judged him.


    Wow, Frank.

    “hold a a mirror to the nation so that it could see itself”

    That is so amazing. This perfectly describes Mr. Baldwin. Thank you.

  • Cam Spence

    A few thoughts on just having finished reading If Beale Street Could Talk: It does – through the lives that embody this novel. Racism is still – in 2011- quite alive in the USA and compromising the options for blacks while providing a pass for whites strictly on the basis of their skin color. Would society be different if we all listened to Beale Street talking?

  • Veronica Farrell

    I have just finished reading How Long the Trains Been Gone. I am thoroughly enlightened by this book. It has made me understand so much more about life’s issues. I now understand death better. This writer put so much committment, energy and wit into his writing. He is a true genius. This book should be taught in all college level literature courses.

  • Betty Cockman

    He must be very good Deb, because your post just sold me!!

  • Otis Duckett

    When I was maturing, Saturday would not BEGIN until “Soul Train” came on the air! I not really know what personal hell drove you to take your own personal life, Brother Don, but know that you were–and always will be–loved and revered in my house FOREVER! Love, Peace, and SOUL!

  • The man next door

    James baldwin is amazing, i love his stories and will never forget such a wonderfull man.

  • roy

    did baldwin and buckley have more than one debate

  • Darko

    …..Desperately searching for any sort of POETRY that James Baldwin might have published…please help me with some suggestions/ referrals/links ….appreciate!, Regards, Darko

  • MissWanda

    He’s certainly one of my favorite writer.. I suppose there will never be such writer in my lifetime.. I’ve enjoyed all his material… Love it Love it.

  • jack ross

    anyone know how to get a good timeline of him

  • Tony Mochama

    Thanks to JB, I now understand ‘the Other’ much better ( I’m from Kenya).
    I like the way a few folk have said tis too bad Mr. Baldwin died in ‘87, because they’d have loved to meet him.
    Like great men are recognised ( finger snap*) and then made to stand still while a line forms, and they shake hands with all who wish to meet them, loool, pearls of wisdom falling from their lips like autumn leaves.
    Just read the darn books – it will be like a conversation with James.

  • kristian

    why is james baldwin famous?????

  • Jack Wagon

    Pretty neat fella


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