Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Logo

Cyrus Colter

January 8, 1910 – April 15, 2002

Inducted in 2011


A Chocolate Soldier (1988)

Night Studies (1979)

River of Eros (1972)

The Hippodrome (1973)

Short Story Collection

The Amoralists and Other Tales (1988)

The Beach Umbrella (1970)

You grow close to your characters, and begin to share their burdens.

Colter began writing at the age of 50 and ten years later published his first book, the short story collection The Beach Umbrella, when Kurt Vonnegut chose it as the winner of the Iowa School of Letters Award. That and his first novel, River of Eros, are both naturalistic works that revolve around blue-collar African-Americans in Chicago. Night Studies won the 1980 Carl Sandburg fiction prize, though Chocolate Soldier (published eight years later) is generally considered his crowning accomplishment. Colter had a full career as a lawyer before joining Northwestern University’s faculty in 1973; a few years later, he became the first black to hold an endowed chair when he was appointed chair of the department of African-American studies.

The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame’s mission is to honor and preserve Chicago’s great literary heritage.
The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame is a federally registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Donations are tax deductible. © 2022 Chicago Literary Hall of Fame

Hannah Jennings Design