Clip | Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart - Lorraine Hansberry’s Inspiration for “A Raisin in the Sun”

Lorraine Hansberry drew inspiration from personal experience when she sat down to write a play about a working class family on the South Side of Chicago. See how she worked to find the words to describe their hopes and struggles, and how she pressed on to complete “A Raisin in the Sun.”


Funding for Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major support is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ford Foundation/JustFilms, National Endowment for the Arts, LEF Foundation, Peter G. Peterson & Joan Ganz Cooney Fund.

Transcript Print

It is only here on paper that I dare say it like that - my work! All which I feel I must write has become obsessive. So many truths seem to be rushing at me as a result of things felt and seen and lived through. Oh what I think I must tell this world!

The process of writing a play is really different for every playwright. Some playwrights begin with an idea, and some playwrights begin with characters that just insist that their stories be told.

'I'm going to write a social drama about Negroes that will be good art,' Lorraine told her husband. She wanted to focus on the working class. She wanted them to be in struggle against racial discrimination, and she wanted them to come through struggle and to make some kind of heroic choice. Hansberry drew on the lives and the personalities she grew up with on the South Side of Chicago for her drama. She struggled to find the words to capture their hopes dreams and frustrations.

Bob didn't rebuke me at all except with a look.

He just got down on the floor and picked up every sheet of it. He put it back in order and kept the whole thing out of my sight for several days, and then one night when I was moping around, he got it out and put it in front of me. I went to work and finished it.