James Baldwin

1924 (New York) – 1987 (Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France)

Baldwin made his name writing about aspects of personal identity – race and homosexuality – when these were still contentious territories. Wright helped him get the grant that enabled him to move to France, though Baldwin later bit back. Fanon and Césaire were among writers he met at a pioneering 1956 conference. He knew King, Evers and Malcolm X personally, while Brando, Baker and Simone, all good friends of his, were involved with him in civil rights. Styron and he drank whiskey nightly till dawn, conversing about slavery. Algren said Baldwin, a noted preacher in his teens, had left the pulpit in order to preach.

James Baldwin knew…