Selected Later Poems of Marie Luise Kaschnitz (1980)
Circe's Mountain, stories by Marie Luise Kaschnitz (1990)
"Poems seem to strike me like lightning, or rather the idea for a poem. And I never know where they come from and I never know when they come. It’s always a matter of something connecting with something else. You know, seeing something, hearing something that at another time would not have meant anything, it would have just been a mundane experience. But for some reason or another at that particular moment I see it as something new, I see it as connecting with something else and therefore making a new idea, a new way of seeing it, a new perception."
When poet Linda Nemec Foster established the Lisel Mueller Scholarship in 2000, her intent was not only to support writers who showed promise, but to enable parents balancing childcare with the hard, solitary work required to create art. Foster knew Mueller first as a mentor then a friend, starting at Goddard College’s low residency MFA program. Foster’s friendship with Mueller deepened over the years and the two remained close the remainder of Mueller’s life. The MFA program started by Ellen Bryant Voigt in 1976 moved from Goddard to Warren Wilson in 1981.
“I was so impressed with how Lisel was able to write her poetry, have two daughters, a husband, and a life,” Foster said. “The Lisel Mueller Scholarship in her honor is given to a writer who has small children, to give them a boost, including financial assistance for childcare. Its intent is practical. Lisel was everything I would want a mother and poet to be.”
The brilliant poetry that would eventually define Lisel Mueller’s legacy did not enter her story until around 1953, when at the age of 29 her mother’s death provided the “emotional catalyst” for her to begin serious writing. It would be another dozen years, 1965, until Mueller, then 41 years old, published her first poetry collection. That foreshadowed three-and-a-half decades as one of America’s finest and most important poets.
Mueller was born Elisabeth Neumann in Hamburg, Germany. In the summer of 1939, just before Hitler’s invasion of Poland ignited World War II, Lisel, then 15, fled Germany with her family. They took refuge in the American Midwest. Her father, Fritz Neumann, a political dissident, had already left Germany and secured a professorship at Evansville College (now Evansville University). Lisel soon enrolled as an undergraduate at Evansville College, where she read the poetry of John Keats and also met classmate Paul Mueller. The two married in 1943. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in sociology the next year, Mueller and her husband did graduate work at Indiana University. Their post-graduate employment, he as editor for legal publisher Commerce Clearing House, she as a social worker and librarian, took them to the Chicago area. Mueller, in those early days, also reviewed poetry for the Chicago Daily News and later Poetry magazine. They lived their first decade in Evanston, some of that time on Crain Street, before moving in 1959 to a Lake Forest home. There, they would reside the next four decades until poor health required their move to senior living facilities.
“I think having come to the U.S. as a young woman, from the horrors of World War II, in Germany especially, she had a way of looking at American life that most American born poets don’t,” said poet Reginald Gibbons. “She had as a backdrop the worse circumstances that human beings could create. She was not a tragic poet at all. But underneath it all there was that basement of memories and knowledge of cataclysm.”
Mueller’s work, often in short, lyrical form, is imbued with a sense of history, as well as the folk and fairy tales she studied as a graduate student. In a Dec. 4, 1993 article called “Bringing It All Together” Mueller told the Chicago Tribune’s Karen DeBrulye Cruze, “I write a lot of poems that have tension between what is going on now in society and what has always been there. My poems are much concerned with history. The message is obvious. My family went through terrible times. In Europe no one has had a private life not affected by history. I’m constantly aware of how privileged we (Americans) are.”
Though the Muellers had a Lake Forest address, they were almost equally close to Libertyville and Vernon Hills. Their North Shore home, just 35 miles northwest of Chicago, was much more rural than suburban. Their subdivision, called Forest Haven, was located off Bradley Road in an unincorporated area. Her address was 1590 Longwood Rd. for those many years, though the houses in the subdivision, including hers, later got renumbered. Her youngest daughter Jenny recalls that during her childhood Lisel did not have a dedicated writing space, though at one point she worked in the basement and eventually converted a second-floor room to her studio. Mueller famously spoke about the moo of her neighbor’s Holstein cows serving as a kind of alarm clock.
When Mueller moved to this one-acre lot abutting a sprawling 200-acre estate her “consciousness changed.” The setting included woodland in the back, a swimming pond, a vacant lot, a gentleman farmer who raised thoroughbred horses and even camels, a spectacular display of flora, and a large variety of wildlife like frogs and salamanders. She told Folio Press, “…after 40 years in this house I know what time of day it is by the way the light slants. I am intimately familiar with the names and habits of the wildflowers and the birds that live in our hawthorns and aspens. We all live together, in the world and in my poems.” It’s no wonder that her poems teem with images of the natural world and what she called “the indifference of nature” in the face of human suffering.
The Mueller house boasted an extensive library, especially poetry books, not just in a dedicated room but in the dining room, living room, bedrooms--all over the house. “My mom and dad were both big readers,” said oldest daughter Lucy. “Somebody once came to the house and said, ‘You better get rid of all those dust catchers.’ That’s what they called the books. We used to laugh about that all the time.” There were plenty of excursions to Chicago, especially for cultural experiences like the Field Museum, Lincoln Park Zoo, Steppenwolf Theater and the Shedd Aquarium. The family often visited Evanston, where close family members on both sides lived. But the Lake Forest home was largely the setting in which Mueller thrived as an artist.
“It really is amazing how she just embraced the world,” said Foster, who has now published 12 poetry books of her own, including The Blue Divide (2021), which is dedicated to Mueller. “If she heard something or read something that struck her, then she would begin to process. Classical music, modern music, classical art, contemporary art, politics, history…she would write from those interests, from her wide knowledge and her wide reading.”
Foster counts as one of many poets that Mueller taught, not only at the Goddard and Warren Wilson low residency programs but also some at Elmhurst College and the University of Chicago. Ed Roberson, now a celebrated poet, was another. He’d published two books of poetry before hopping a bus to Goddard, where Mueller accepted him as a mentee. In addition to the time spent on campus, Mueller later helped Roberson through frequent critiques and advice over the phone and through the mail. “Lisel, she is one of the folks who kept me writing,” said Roberson. “She hit me at a crucial time in my writing--it was my third book, Lucid Interval. That was the book, I just let loose. Lisel talked me through that thing. It was kind of a bad time in my life, I had gotten a divorce and lost custody of my daughter. She got back to me every time I sent her something. She’d say, ‘I don’t understand exactly what’s happening, but go on. Try this, do this.’ I was writing all this wild off-the-wall stuff, that’s when my real writing started. That whole year, we’d go on, and she helped get me through that whole book.”
Mueller was also an institution builder. She was one of the founders of the Chicago Poetry Center and an important early advocate of the Ragdale residency program.
The Poetry Center, of course, regularly brought Mueller to Chicago proper, as did other appearances and leisurely visits to the Art Institute, which features in several of her poems. She’d gotten to know Chicago intimately as a case worker in her post-graduate years, as well as her work for the Chicago Daily News. “For many years, she traveled through Chicago meeting her clients,” Foster said. “She knew the streets of Chicago like the back of her hand. She was like a roadmap before GPS. When we’d be traveling into the city, she would know the area, the neighborhood, street names—she still remembered this gridwork of streets in Chicago.”
Mueller’s poems generally are not place specific, though some, like her famous poem, “When I Am Asked” certainly locates in her Forest Haven backyard; others clearly take place in Chicago, like the prose poem “Triage.” The latter poem includes the lines, “Walking past a stand of tall, still healthy elms along/Chicago’s lakefront, I think of what Brecht said.” In “Identical Twins,” the narrator studies her own face in the window of a subway.
“She wrote constantly of the role of history in her life and times, and also drew from her immediate surroundings,” said daughter Jenny, author of the poetry collections Bonneville and State Park. “I do recognize the world of her poems and know that was the world I grew up in. She wrote a great deal about her family. Towards the end of his life my grandfather was too ill to live with his wife in Germany and came to live with us.”
Starting in 1965 with her debut collection Dependencies and through the 1996 Pulitzer Prize-winning compendium, Alive Together: New and Selected Poems, Mueller published nine volumes of poetry as well as two books of translation. Among those titles was the National Book Award-winning The Need to Hold Still (1980). Mueller’s first major award came a decade after her first publication, when at the age of 57 she won the Lamont Poetry Prize for The Private Life (1975). Mueller would go on to capture a Carl Sandburg Award (1990), a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship (1990), a Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize (2002), and an Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2019). In 1981, during the Carter administration, she attended an evening of poetry at the White House.
The Pulitzer jury wrote that Alive Together was “a testament that invites readers to share her vision of experiences we all have in common: sorrow, tenderness, desire, the revelations of art, and mortality — ‘the hard, dry smack of death against the glass.’”
Former Poetry magazine editor Don Share said in an interview that Mueller was “everything a poet could aspire to be: She hit all the right notes, and did so with grace, heart and wit. American poetry today focuses on such matters as privilege, the drama of everyday life, nature and also war, and she helped create the language in which we write and think about these important subjects.”
The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College awards its Lisel Mueller Scholarship annually, a perpetual reminder of the poet’s lasting legacy.
Era Bell Thompson
August 10, 1905-December 30, 1986
Inducted in 2020
American Daughter (1946)
Africa: Land of My Fathers (1954)
White on Black; the Views of Twenty-Two White Americans on the Negro. Edited by Era Bell Thompson and Herbert Nipson (1963)
"Surinam: Multicultural Paradise at the Crossroads" in Ebony (1967)
"Negro Publications and the Writer" in Phylon (1950)
"Australia: Its White Policy and the Negro" in Ebony (1966)
"There was a certain amount of pride placed upon the doubtful distinction of being an “only Negro,” the thing I came to Chicago to escape."
To have seen Era Bell Thompson around the offices at Johnson Publishing Company, you wouldn’t have known she was a big deal. She had her own office, sure, but her constant good cheer, encouragement and humor belied the fact that the granddaughter of former slaves had clawed her way improbably to the elevated status of renowned international journalist. After John H. Johnson hired Thompson as an associate editor of its Negro Digest, she worked as a co-managing editor and visionary for JPC’s leading magazine, Ebony, from 1951-64. Thompson continued to work for Ebony as an international editor from 1964 until her death in 1986.
“She was never one to complain or talk about ‘I had a hard time,’ “ said John Woodford, a staff writer and editor when he worked at JPC in 1965 and then again from 1969 to the late 70s. “She was always extremely positive. She was one to overcome any obstacles and celebrate her abilities to do it. She knew she could write really well, she was a great reporter, and found a place to use her talents.”
Despite all appearances, Thompson was a big deal, more so during Woodford’s second tour, when Johnson Publishing Company had moved north from its converted funeral parlor offices on South Michigan Avenue to its impressive new building in the Loop. In a career that included more than 40 bylined articles and travel to 124 countries on six continents, publication of a memoir and book-length study of Africa, and important interviews with the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr., Thompson quietly sat among the upper echelons of American journalists.
Thompson was 27 years old when she traveled across the Plains and the upper Midwest to witness The Century of Progress in Chicago. This was 1933, the country just barely on the mend from the deepest, most troubling years of the Great Depression. Thompson had been raised first in Des Moines, Iowa, then, Bismarck, Mandan, and Grand Forks, North Dakota, where her father was a farmer, shop keeper and government messenger. After high school, Thompson had seen for the first time a Black newspaper, The Chicago Defender, and soon became a correspondent (she contributed to the “Lights and Shadows” column under the pseudonym Dakota Dick, a cowboy from the Wild West). She’d distinguished herself as a writer for the University of North Dakota campus newspaper and as a college track star. She’d finished her degree at Morningside College (Sioux City, IA), after being forced to leave the University of North Dakota due to illness. The youngest of Stewart and Mary Thompson’s four children and the only girl, Thompson had previously visited Chicago several times. Now, armed with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a few contacts, and with no surviving parents to whom to return, she stayed.
In her memoir, American Daughter, she recounts her entry to Chicago. “My eyes grew big and my heart pounded as the yellow cab weaved in and out of the maelstrom of traffic, turned into Michigan Avenue, and started south. A huge, double-deck bus staggered around a corner, top-heavy and clumsy. I saw a coloured man. Four men in a long black car shot past. Gangsters! They had to be gangsters, Chicago was full of them. A coloured woman, another coloured man. The crowds and the traffic slowly decreased. All around me now were black people, lots and lots of black people, so many black people I stared when I saw a white person.”
She would eventually win a Newberry Library fellowship en route to publication of her memoir, an assistant editorship at Ebony in 1947, promotion to co-managing editor in 1951, and a whole string of successes thereafter. But all of that came many years after she first found boarding at the Young Women’s Christian Association and settled for work as a house cleaner (“...it didn’t help to tell people I was a college graduate.”).
Thompson scrubbed floors, washed windows, ironed, did laundry, starched collars, styled little girls’ hair and potty-trained little boys, cleaned, shined, and tended to various whims in various households. And this counted as the best Thompson could do after relentless, tireless pursuit of gainful employment.
By necessity more than choice, Thompson moved fairly frequently within the confines of Chicago’s Black Belt. That first year, she lived at 56th and South Parkway then moved to Rhodes Avenue until 1935. She stayed with friends for a time at 5239 S. Michigan Ave.
For more than a decade, Thompson labored at temporary jobs while also training for more substantial work. She was a junior clerk for the Chicago Relief Administration, where she started and edited an interoffice newspaper, the Giggle Sheet. Took her civil service exams. Found work at the Illinois Occupational Survey. Then the Works Progress Administration. Did post-graduate studies at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism (1938-40). Was an interviewer with the U.S. and Illinois Employment Survey.
It was in 1945 that Thompson received the Newberry Library fellowship to write her memoir, American Daughter, which was released the following year. American Daughter, which in part told the story of her North Dakota childhood, caught the attention of JPC publisher John Johnson, who hired Thompson.
“I knew she had come from the Plains states, but she didn’t talk much about her experiences in college, except to say that she was isolated from other black people growing up,” said Woodford. “It wasn’t until she came to Chicago that she had a Black community.”
Tenacity and patience, along with a crisp, smart prose style distinguished Thompson as a reporter. Though she traveled as a writer to many foreign lands, she would not commit pen to paper until she’d thoroughly absorbed and learned the local customs and people--their lifestyles, social conventions, even food--a process that often took a full month and a hundred interviews. She based Africa, Land of My Fathers (1954) on her tour of 18 African countries.
Her reputation, based on her published work and public comments, was that of a broker for peace and harmony among all people, including men and women, as well as Black and white. This in a time of enormous division. In fact, she closed her memoir with the lines, “The chasm is growing narrower. When it does, my feet will rest on a united America.” Though Thompson indeed saw the potential for racial and gender equality, she observed and understood society’s injustices and spotlighted them, if sometimes subtly, in her articles.
In the New York Times obituary, Herbert Nipson, then executive editor of Ebony, said, ‘’I worked with her for 30 years--she was an advocate of women’s lib long before it became popular. She did stories in Africa, India, Australia, South America and various islands in the South Pacific.’’
To be sure, Thompson at times confronted racism and misogyny head on, with an erudition and thoughtfulness that demonstrated more than preached the validity of her views. Thompson’s contribution to Ebony’s special 1965 issue, “The White Problem in America,” was an essay entitled, “Some of my best friends are white.” In it, she writes, “With the new order of things, the majority race is finding it difficult to alter a life-time of thinking of the Negro as an inferior and start treating him as an equal; to stop confining analogues to one race and start comparing merit with merit. Willie Mays is the highest-paid baseball player in the major leagues, not the best ‘Negro player.’ Leontyne Price is a credit to the world of opera, not just ‘to her race.’ And between the butler and the ambassador, there are thousands of Negroes who will be tomorrow’s neighbor, perhaps tomorrow’s boss.”
Evidence of the force and confidence with which Thompson advocated for herself as well as all women and Black people presented itself in her public life as well as journalism work. She once wrote a complaint letter to the Chicago Tribune after she’d been excluded from a contributors’ banquet. It said, “I am a respectable citizen, a member of the N.A.A.C.P., the Board of Directors of the Chicago Y.W.C.A. and am on a fellowship writing a book—trying to write a story without malice and without bitterness. Sometimes the writing is very hard.”
In 1957, Thompson spent a night in a South African jail in response to being told there were no hotel rooms for Blacks. Among her book credits, Thompson co-edited White on Black (1963). Many of her later essays criticized men’s treatment of women. She often spoke to college and high school groups to encourage people, especially women, to go into journalism.
Thompson’s writing subjects ranged from Edith Sampson to Adlai Stevenson to Joe Louis. Among her wide circle of friends were several she interviewed for print, such as Gwendolyn Brooks and Langston Hughes. Thompson established herself as an active and influential member of the community as she settled into a Chicago life that included a treacherous travel and work schedule. In her early Chicago years, Thompson served the YWCA as an editor, senior typist and junior clerk for short stretches; later she sat on its board of directors. She also maintained a close relationship with her local library, serving, for example, on committees in support of Charlemae Hill Rollins’s and Vivian Harsh’s literature forum.
Thompson lived in three primary residences in the last 45 years of her life. She lived at 6246 S. Parkway from January 1941 until November 1955; 3440 S. Cottage Grove (Lake Meadows) from November 1955 until June 1962; and finally at 2851 S. Martin Luther King Dr. (apartment 710 and then 1910) from September 1962 until her death in 1986. She stayed a short while with friends at 9225 S. Michigan when she was in transition between her last two apartments.
She decorated her homes with artifacts acquired during her travels, including African figurines and a zebra hide she’d had tanned, stretched and dried. Thompson maintained many friendships, often cultivated over a long time, both through social activities like dinner parties and robust correspondence. Thompson, due to her Johnson Publishing position, exerted a sphere of influence that included editors, journalists, politicians, scholars, artists, athletes, and all manner of celebrities.
“All her life, she wrote,” said Beverly A. Cook, librarian and archivist of the Chicago Public Library’s Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection. “That was her friend. She wrote in diaries like other little girls would play with their dolls or talk with their friends. It was a survival skill. She never stopped, not until the very end. She was constantly doodling and making notes.”
Morningside College gave Thompson an honorary doctorate degree in 1965 and its Distinguished Alumni Award in 1974. The University of North Dakota awarded Thompson an honorary doctorate degree in 1969 and ten years later renamed its Black Cultural Center in her honor. In 1976, the state gave Thompson its most prestigious honor, the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award. The Society of Midland Authors bestowed upon Thompson its Patron of Saints Award (1968). She was among 50 black women included in ‘’Women in Courage,’’ a touring photography exhibit that showed during Black History Month at the Chicago Public Library’s Cultural Center in February 1986.
Thompson donated part of her massive collection of papers and ephemera to the Chicago Public Library in 1984, and the rest upon her death. The Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature holds the Era Bell Thompson Papers, 108 boxes taking up almost 100 linear feet that provides primary evidence of Thompson’s personal and professional life. The Harsh archivists continue to process the vast materials, including manuscripts, correspondence, and Johnson Publishing records and photographs.
“She was like the Grand Old Editor,” Woodford said. “She was always praising people for doing a good job. She worked mainly on her own things. Being a Black journalist, she had so many battles to fight…just getting credentials, to insist upon being respected. She had a lot of verve. She was a very hard-working, imaginative reporter, very thorough; also, she was a really strong, vivid writer. By being such an excellent journalist, she gave luster to and enabled those that came after.”
Harry Mark Petrakis
June 5, 1923-February 2, 2021
Inducted in 2020
Lion at My Heart (1959)
The Odyssey of Kostas Volakis (1963)
A Dream of Kings (1966)
In the Land of Morning (1973)
The Hour of the Bell: A Novel of the Greek War of Independence Against the Turks (1976)
Nick the Greek (1979)
Days of Vengeance (1983)
Ghost of the Sun (1990), sequel to A Dream of Kings
Twilight of the Ice (2003)
The Orchards of Ithaca (2004)
The Shepherds of Shadows (2008), sequel to The Hour of the Bell
Short story collections
Pericles on 31st Street (1965)
A Petrakis Reader (1978)
The Waves of Night and Other Stories (1969)
Collected Stories (1987)
Legends of Glory and Other Stories (2007)
Cavafy's Stone and Other Village Tales (2010)
Stelmark: A Family Recollection (1970)
Reflections: A Writer's Life, A Writer's Work (1983)
Tales of the Heart: Dreams and Memories of a Lifetime (1999)
Journal of a Novel (2012)
Song of My Life (2014)
The Founder's Touch: The Life of Paul Galvin of Motorola (1965)
Henry Crown: The Life and Times of the Colonel (1998), Co-authored with David B. Weber.
Reach Out: The Story of Motorola and Its People (2003)
"It’s a very tenuous profession, a profession where you love what you do and can only see yourself doing it—so damn the consequences."
Chicago’s Greek Town treated Harry Mark Petrakis like a celebrity. He often tromped Halsted Street between Jackson and Randolph Streets, stopping at this and that kafenio to drink coffee with the old men congregated there. Always, he’d end up at the old Diana’s grocery, where movie posters and stills from the 1969 Hollywood adaptation of Petrakis’s novel, The Dream of Kings, peppered the walls. The Kogiones brothers would foist meals on Petrakis—wouldn’t take no for an answer, even when he’d already dined elsewhere in the neighborhood.
“He was their chronicler, he was the one who understood the world they operated in,” said Harry’s middle son, John. “He thrived on that group, that neighborhood, those people. What [William] Saroyan was to the Armenians, my dad was to the Greeks. Chicago was a very rich place for him to draw on.”
Even before the big-time Hollywood film crew descended upon Greek Town to get its establishing shots on Halsted Street, including at Diana’s, Petrakis’s work permeated the consciousness of that community and well beyond. Starting with his first story publication in 1956, Petrakis explored the inner lives of people crowded into small apartments above storefronts, the backs of restaurants, side street taverns, and churches. He found humanity in warehouse, bakery, dock and rail yard workers. He understood the importance of family and ethnic identity to the American Dream. By the time of his death in 2021, Petrakis had left 11 novels, six short story collections, five memoirs, and three other non-fictional books built around his passion for community.
“He knew he wanted to be a writer from when he was a kid,” said John Petrakis. “There was never anything else he wanted to do. He had dozens of other jobs, he wrote about those other jobs, but writing was just essential to him. It validated who he was.”
Born in St. Louis, Petrakis moved to Chicago when he was just a toddler. His father, Mark, a priest, emigrated from Crete to Price, Utah to minister to miners, then was transferred to St. Louis. He moved his family to Chicago when he was called upon to lead Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church, then at 61st Street and Michigan Avenue. Soon after, the church built a new home at 73rd and Stony Island.
Petrakis attended Koraes Elementary School, which was part of Saints Constantine & Helen. There, he starred in class productions of Greek tragedies and built the foundation for his own creations. He realized he was a storyteller. As a grade school kid, he met Diana Perparos, whose father John owned several Hyde Park dry cleaning and shoe repair stores. He courted Diana until, in their teen years, they became a couple. Petrakis graduated from A.O. Sexton Elementary School (6020 S. Langley Ave), where he’d spent his final two grade school years.
High school was a short story. Though Petrakis read voraciously, a habit he’d formed during a bed-ridden year battling tuberculosis, he quickly abandoned his formal education. He started at Englewood High School, but lasted just a year and a half. He skipped school more and more until he stopped going altogether. Petrakis’s father then sent him to Urbana to live with brother Mike, a student at the University of Illinois, and continue his education. Petrakis only pretended to go to the Urbana high school, opting instead to hide out at one of Illinois’s many campus libraries. He lasted just two weeks at St. Procopius, a Catholic institution in Lisle. Petrakis wrote in Song of My Life: A Memoir, “Lest any aspiring writer use my meager academic resume to justify their own indolence and downgrade the value of education, let me warn them that the course of my life has been a bewildering series of incongruous events. There is no lesson to be learned besides the one that an outcome often depends on the vagaries of chance.”
Petrakis did not stray far from his childhood neighborhood in the first half of his life. He and Diana lived in a series of South Side apartments, and from 1950-56 stayed with Harry’s parents at 7601 S. Ridgeland. After a hiatus in Pittsburgh to work as a speech writer for U.S. Steel, Petrakis and family moved into a soon-to-be demolished house at 2766 E. 75th Street, right by Rainbow Beach. It was a dilapidated structure—literally condemned—that retained traces of its former elegant self, including stained glass windows and brass doorknobs. When the wrecking ball came for that house, the Petrakis family sidled just a bit west in the South Shore neighborhood, to 2463 E. 74th Place. This house, in which the Petrakis family lived from around 1960-67, was tiny; with three young boys plus Harry’s mom Stella, quarters were tight. Still, Harry carved out a writing studio for himself in the attic. This house, just east of Jeffery, was where Harry started to gain traction as an important author.
His debut novel, Lion at My Heart (1959) came out just before the Petrakises took up residence on 74th Place, but the novels The Odyssey of Kostas Volakis (1963) and A Dream of Kings (1966), as well as the short story collection Pericles on 31st Street (1965) were largely produced there.
“He was very much the writer all the time, very much the artist all the time,” said John. “He was a very warm and loving father, but the work was terribly important to him. He was always putting himself in the best position to keep working.”
Petrakis’s deep affection for Chicago’s Greek population naturally stemmed from his own ancestry. That connection proved inspirational to Petrakis’s personal life and critical to his fiction and non-fiction work. Always meticulous and precise in detailing his characters and settings, Petrakis increased his understanding of his Greek roots through a dozen trips to his homeland, not only Crete but throughout the country. In A Dream of Kings, Matsoukas embodies the entwinement of Chicago and Greece. While Matsoukas hungrily participates and loves his Halsted Street life, he becomes obsessed with the idea that only a return to his homeland will cure his terminally ill young son Stavros.
WBEZ investigative reporter Dan Mihalopoulos began reading Petrakis as a teen. “I guess the thing that impressed me the most was that someone had written, in English, about our unique little sub-culture,” he said. “It struck me that he really told a good story, and he infused his tales with a sense of the Greek-American love for not only food, faith and family but also politics and other human intrigue. He didn’t sanitize this world, either, by the way. His work resonated with me because I saw myself as both fully an American of Chicago and fully immersed in my ancestral culture.”
Though Petrakis never graduated high school, he later was awarded six honorary doctorates and taught at several universities, including as the McGuffey Visiting Lecturer at Ohio University and the Nikos Kazantzakis Chair in Modern Greek Studies at San Francisco State University. A gifted orator, Petrakis also earned a substantial living on the lecture circuit, often speaking without notes, or telling his powerful stories from memory.
His many awards included the “Atlantic First” Award (1957), a Benjamin Franklin Citation (1957), a Friends of American Writers Award (1964), a Friends of Literature Award (1964), a Society of Midland Authors Award (1964), an O. Henry Award (1966), a Carl Sandburg Award (1983), a Gabby Award for Arts & Culture (2009), and the Pancretan Association’s Nikos Kazantzakis Award for the Arts (2013). Petrakis was twice a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction (1966 and 1967), and a Writer-in-Residence at both the Chicago Public Library (1976-77) and Chicago Board of Education (1978). He was given the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame’s Fuller Award for lifetime achievement in 2014.
“The remarkable genius of [Harry] Mark Petrakis is deeply rooted in the soil of two disparate worlds--the cultural iconography of Greece, its rich heritage and traditions, and the Greco-American immigrant experience of Chicago told in his delightful prose--a collection of rich anecdotes through the lens of personal nostalgia of a vanished time and place,” wrote prolific author and Chicago historian Richard Lindberg. “Mark was a brilliant and engaging storyteller who spiced his oft-told tales shared with readers and listeners through humor, irony, mirth and sentiment. I will always remember him as one of the icons of Chicago’s last literary renaissance.”
In 1968, after two years in Northridge, California, Petrakis moved his family to Chesterton, Indiana, about 50 miles southeast of the Chicago border, and he lived there his remaining days. As he had in Chicago, Petrakis maintained a custom-built writing studio—this one above his garage. Not only did it provide Petrakis quiet and solitude, it afforded him views of Chicago across Lake Michigan, including some sunsets in which the city’s entire skyline silhouetted against the sky. Chicago persisted as the base of his fictional world and he continued to make frequent trips there, for his research, for dinners or shows or the symphony with Diana, for literary engagements, or just to catch up with old and new Greek friends.
“Up until just a few months before he died, he was working on a new novel,” said John. “He so desperately wanted to keep living. His body was shutting down, he couldn’t eat anymore. Eventually he had to let go, but he didn’t want to go. He wanted to keep writing. He loved being a writer. He loved going to writer conferences. He loved working with young writers. He loved it all.”
August 13, 1923–January 19, 2005
Inducted in 2019
Crystal-Gazing the Amber Fluid and Other Wobbly Poems (1990)
De Kansas a Califas & Back to Chicago, poems and art(1992)
Where Are The Voices & Other Wobbly Poems (1997)
Viva Posada: A Salute to the Great Printmaker of the Mexican Revolution, editor and author of the introduction (2002)
In this, our 11th season, and after a year-long posponement due to the health pandemic, the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame inducted Carlos Cortez on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021 at City Lit Theater. Kathie Bergquist emceed the ceremony shown in the following video. Kathleen Rooney, Carlos Cumpián, Tracy Baim, and Valya Dudycz Lupescu were among the speakers.
Culture comes up from the bottom. It never comes down from the top. The only thing that comes down from the top? There is a Mexican popular saying. “Las gallinas de arriba siempre cagan en las de abajo.” The chickens on the top always shit on those below.
Carlos Cortéz was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to a Mexican Indian father and German mother who provided him with a multi-hyphenate, multilingual, and totally radical household. He was a singular artist of many abilities, and worked as a poet, writer, visual artist, printer, photographer, muralist, organizer, editor, and activist. We honor him today for the spellbinding life of art he created in Chicago, where he will be remembered as a beloved abuelo to generations of poets and activists.
His parents met on the street while his father was peddling copies of the Industrial Workers of the World’s chief publication, Industrial Solidarity. His mother belonged to the Socialist Party of America and wrote poetry, and his father was a Wobbly union organizer, construction worker, soapboxer, and singer—he sang in seven languages and was fluent in five.
Cortéz himself did poorly in school, “not out of lack of intelligence but lack of adhering to the academic regime.” His parents called their cantankerous young son “cabezudo” (hard head) and “dummkopf” (blockhead). And so he decided to skip college and get to work instead. Cortéz wrote his first “serious” poem in his early twenties after being locked-up overnight on suspicion. A few years later he picked up work by the Beats and thought, “Hell, I can write this shit.” When WWII broke out he became a conscientious objector to war, stating his refusal to “shoot fellow draftees” in a “gang fight for power and wealth.” He was subsequently imprisoned for 18 months and, after his release, promptly became a lifelong member of the
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
Often a trickster, Cortéz named himself C.C. Red Cloud, Koyokuikati (coyote sound), and X321826 for his many leftist columns, poems, cartoons, and etchings published in the Industrial Worker. And of all the names he owned during his lifetime, the name “friend” sticks the strongest. IWW member and oilfield worker Gary Cox wrote in the Industrial Worker newspaper: “I have never met a more gentle and honest man in my
life. What you saw is what you got.” A genius at living.
Young people often asked Cortéz about making a living at art—his question back to them was, “Do you want to make a living of art, or do you want to make a life of art?” In an interview with Christine Flores-Cozza he notes: “I don’t turn my nose up at making money,” he said, “but what is more important to me is making face.”
When Cortéz bequeathed his wood and linoleum printing blocks to the National Museum of Mexican Art, he stipulated that if any of his prints became too expensive for working people to purchase, they should be used to print more and drive the price down. He used old methods to produce work, and took his time to get it right. The prints embodied physical labor and provided glimpses into the love and struggles of working people and their families. Founder and president of the museum, Carlos Tortolero, commented that, “you couldn’t separate the manual labor he did from who he was. Carlos was always about the real value of things. It was never money.”
The primary concern of his work was the liberation of working people—“mostly the idea that we can do something with our world, particularly our human society, the way it is run, so we can better appreciate all the wealth the world has to offer.” Or, as he also said: To “stop the wheels from turning.”
Cortéz believed that art is essential to human experience, and therefore everyone was entitled to it. “My greatest goal is to feel I’ve turned on others to the path of creativity. Turned on others, not only to their own personal creativity, but to work toward a truly creative society. A society that is more egalitarian, more loving of each other, more recognizing of the worth in each of us.” To him, the highest praise would be for someone to say, “That’s the guy who got me started.” “The only thing is,” he said, “you don’t teach art. You open doors. It’s one thing to show you how to push an engraving tool, handle a brush, blend colors and that. But that only liberates what is already inside of you.”
If you’re looking for credentials, Carlos Cortéz is the author of Where Are The Voices & Other Wobbly Poems and Crystal-Gazing the Amber Fluid and Other Wobbly Poems, both published by Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company, as well as De Kansas a Califas & Back to Chicago (March Abrazo Press). His visual art is held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Smithsonian, the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, and elsewhere. If you want his writing—good luck. His poems, essays, and cartoons are scarcely available in bookstores and libraries. And there is a dearth of material available online, even. So it is our turn to carry his voice forward and encourage the next generations to take up his call for human ingenuity and solidarity. As our hero put it: “I think the best thing is that when you know something, you pass it on to the next person.”
May the torch we bring to this ceremony ignite something inside of you all, to carry his fire into a better future, for a better Chicago and world beyond. We need each other.
Jeannette Howard Foster
November 3, 1895–July 26, 1981
Inducted in 2019
Sex Variant Women in Literature (1957)
Multiple short works, including:
“White Night,” poem (1914)
“Lucky Star,” story in Harpers Magazine (1927)
I knew damn well I didn’t want to major in Latin!
Born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1895, Jeannette Howard Foster is best known as the author of Sex Variant Women in Literature (1957), a germinal study that earned her recognition as a foremother of lesbian history and literature. The daughter of Winslow Howard and Mabel (Burr) Foster, she excelled in her studies at the Parker Practice School and graduated from Calumet High School in 1912. Entering the University of Chicago the following autumn, she studied chemistry and physics, but preferred writing poetry. She wrote her earliest surviving poem, “White Night” (1914), while watching a woman from the window of her Beecher Hall dormitory at the University of Chicago.
In 1915, Foster transferred to Rockford College, where she majored in English and American literature and published her first short stories in a school magazine. Following graduation in 1918, she taught high school science in Kentucky and Wisconsin, before returning to the University of Chicago to earn an M.A. in English, completed in 1922.
During the next decade, as she taught English at women’s colleges in Minnesota, Georgia, and Virginia, Foster wrote numerous poems and pieces of short fiction. Her story, “Lucky Star,” appeared in Harpers Magazine in 1927, but there was no market for her lesbian poetry.
Restless, Foster decided to change careers. After earning a Bachelor of Library Science degree from Emory University in 1932, she found her way back to the University of Chicago, where in 1936 she became one of the first women to earn a doctorate from the Graduate Library School. While a student at the University of Chicago, Foster searched its library collections for books containing references to the existence of lesbians, bisexuals, and cross dressers, taking detailed notes on each title. She continued working on this project after moving to Philadelphia to become a professor at the Drexel Institute of Technology’s Library School in 1937. In her free time, she visited countless East Coast libraries in search of lesbian literature. Her original intent was to include only works that she had seen firsthand, a goal made difficult by cataloging obscurities, inaccessible or lost material, and closed collections. In her spare time she continued writing poetry and short fiction, but filed it away due to lack of publication outlets.
In 1941, after reading about the pioneering sex research of Indiana University professor Dr. Alfred Kinsey, Foster volunteered to sit for an interview, and subsequently assisted him in identifying additional interviewees. Impressed by her extensive knowledge and scholarly credentials, Kinsey invited her to join his staff shortly after he incorporated the Institute for Sex Research in 1948. During her four years as Kinsey’s librarian, Foster organized materials he had collected from all over the world, and at the same time continued her search for titles to add to her study of lesbian literature. While at the Institute, Foster also grew close to another employee, Hazel Toliver, who became her life partner. Concerned that Kinsey might appropriate her research or suppress it, Foster and Toliver accepted positions at the University of Kansas City and moved to Missouri in 1952.
Foster had hoped to interest a university press or reputable publisher in her study of approximately 2600 years of literary images of female sex variants—women today called lesbian, bisexual, or transsexual—but in an era infused with McCarthyism, publishers regarded her subject matter as subversive. Turning to a subsidy press, she spent nearly $4,500 of her retirement savings to have the book printed, and she made the bold decision to publish it under her own name. Unfortunately, her delight upon holding the first copy of Sex Variant Women in Literature in her hands in February, 1957, soon turned to bitter disappointment because it failed to generate the reviews.
Unknown to Foster until later that year, the publication of her book coincided with the emergence of The Ladder, the first nationally distributed monthly lesbian magazine. In addition to alerting other gays and lesbians to her book, The Ladder became an outlet for the short stories and novella she had written in the 1930s. She published her creative work under pseudonyms (many of them derived from family names), but also wrote numerous reviews and letters to the editor under her own name.
As the gay liberation movement emerged and called for social change in the 1960s, Foster gained long overdue recognition for her pioneering work to establish a canon of lesbian literature. Organizers of the first Lesbian Writers Conference, held in Chicago in September 1974, dedicated the conference to her. That same year, The American Library Association Task Force on Gay Liberation gave Sex Variant Women in Literature its third Gay Book Award. This recognition of the long out-of-print work led to its reissuance by Diana Press (1976) and to the publication of Two Women: The Poetry of Jeannette Foster and Valerie Taylor (Womanpress, 1976). Her translation of Renée Vivien’s A Woman Appeared to Me became one of the first books published by the newly established Naiad Press, enabling her work to reach thousands of lesbian readers worldwide.
Like Dr. Kinsey’s pioneering studies, Jeannette Howard Foster’s Sex Variant Women in Literature shattered myths and misunderstandings and touched the lives of countless lesbians and gays coming of age in the 1950s and beyond. As growing numbers of people visited libraries in search of gay books, they often turned to Sex Variant Women in Literature as a guide. Foster’s literary and intellectual heirs include the distinguished historian Lillian Faderman, who in 1962 discovered Foster’s book on the shelves of UCLA’s English Reading Room. The book had a profound impact on her life, inspiring her to write Surpassing the Love of Men (1981). In Chicago, Joseph Gregg credited his literary activism to Foster’s book, which became an important tool when building the Gerber/Hart Library collection. These, and many similar examples, illustrate the far-reaching impact of Foster and her work.
—Joanne E. Passet
Frank London Brown
October 7, 1927–March 12, 1962
Inducted in 2019
Trumbull Park (1959)
The Myth Maker (1969)
Multiple stories and articles, most popularly McDougal (1968)
In this, our 11th season, and after a year-long posponement due to the health pandemic, the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame inducted Frank London Brown on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021 at City Lit Theater. Kathie Bergquist emceed the ceremony (shown in the following video). Kathleen Rooney, Carlos Cumpián, Tracy Baim, and Valya Dudycz Lupescu were among the speakers.
And we walked and walked and walked—walking through the great Trumbull Park, Buggy walking to Helen, Harry walking to his wife Margaret, walking to all our friends there. Walking.
—from Frank London Brown’s Trumbull Park
Shortly before the release of his seminal 1959 novel, Trumbull Park, Frank London Brown penned a profile of jazz great Thelonious Monk for Downbeat. “Thelonious Sphere Monk finally has been discovered,” he wrote, recognizing in Monk a rare creative genius who would spend the next thirty years transforming jazz, years Brown would not live to see though he was a full decade younger. Just four years later, at 34, he succumbed to leukemia, and though his contributions to literature and the Civil Rights movement were significant, Frank London Brown’s own literary genius would, until recent years, largely fall into obscurity.
Trumbull Park sold more than 25,000 copies, catapulting the author into short-lived fame and solidifying his place within the Chicago Black Renaissance. Inspired by his family’s tumultuous experience integrating Trumbull Park, a White public housing development at 105th and Yates on the far South Side, the novel dramatizes the terror and eventual empowerment of several Black working-class couples as they endure violent mobs and police indifference, as well as rising tensions within their own ranks.
Unapologetically political and progressive, Frank London Brown was a union organizer and a Civil Rights activist, as well as a writer, muckraker, musician, reporter and editor. He worked numerous jobs to support his growing family and his literary aspirations, endured poverty and racism, as well as constant surveillance by the FBI. Described by scholar Mary Helen Washington as “a handsome and eloquent man,” Brown could talk to anyone, loved jazz and the blues, and occasionally sang in the clubs. He read his stories aloud at The Jazz Showcase. He joined Thelonious Monk at the Five Spot in New York and cut a 45 of “Let’s Have a Party (Let’s Have a Ball)” with Lil Armstrong, a song his daughter Debra Thompson-Brown remembers singing with her father on weekends when the house was filled with the sounds of Charlie “Bird” Parker, Thelonious Monk, and Dizzy Gillespie.
Brown’s love of music and innovation weaves through much of his work. Richard Guzman heralds his acclaimed short story “MacDougal,” which features a White jazz musician on Chicago’s 58th Street, as one that explores “the possibilities that people could relate and empathize across the terrible racial boundaries he [Brown] spent his short life not only writing about, but also trying to help everyone overcome in daily life.” And Trumbull Park is a cacophony of noise, from the city, from the angry White crowds that surround the housing development. In a penultimate scene of resistance and communal power, the main characters sing a refrain from a Joe Williams blues tune as they march toward the mob.
Born in Kanas City, Frank London Brown moved to Chicago when he was twelve and was educated at DuSable High School and Roosevelt University. He attended Kent School of Law for a time and earned an MA in Social Science from the University of Chicago. He was Director of the Union Research Center of the University of Chicago and a candidate for a doctorate from the prestigious Committee on Social Thought. As a journalist and editor, he published countless articles in the Chicago Sun-Times, Ebony, The Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Defender, the Chicago Review, Negro Digest, and other periodicals. He’s known for his unflinching coverage of the murder of Chicago teen Emmett Till in Mississippi, and he wrote features on a number of important artists, including gospel singer Mahalia Jackson.
In Brown’s work is a unique knowledge of the complexities of humanity and of Chicago, honed through the many people he met working various jobs and recruiting for the AFL-CIO and the UPWA. Debra E. Brown-Thompson, one of his three daughters, recalls accompanying her father on a union canvassing trip in an unfamiliar neighborhood. “We walked for blocks and blocks, must have knocked on about 30 doors,” she said. “‘Hello, I'm Frank Brown,’ he’d say. Daddy had a way of talking to people that made them feel they had known him for years.” She had nearly memorized his speech when they walked up a decrepit back staircase and her father asked if she wanted to try. “The door opened and this big, burly, White man with a big belly, gray pants, and white shirt pushed open the screen door. ‘What da' ya' want?’ he said in gruff, bullying voice.” Her father waited for her to speak. What happened next is hazy for Brown-Thompson, but she doesn’t think it ended well. Still “I felt so brave and proud of myself! I knew then I could confront anyone, anything, at any time. I had just asked a big ole' White man to join my Daddy's Union. It didn't even matter what he said.”
Thompson-Brown recalls how her father would take the family on car rides to “follow the sun,” as he would say, down 95th Street. In summer, they would stop at the Rainbow Cone Ice Cream Shop on 95th and Ashland for sherbet. In winter after the first snow, they’d drive to the Midway on 55th Street near the University of Chicago. “He would say, ‘Okay! Look at the snow. There are no footprints! Let's make our mark on the world!’” They would run up and down the Midway making footprints in the snow. He encouraged his daughters and his community to use their voices and to leave their marks.
Gwendolyn Brooks eulogized Brown in a poem after his death, and over the years his Chicago community worked to keep his memory alive. In 1969, Path Press, a venture Brown himself once envisioned with Herman C. Gilbert and Gus Savage, published his posthumous novel The Mythmakers. Nonetheless Brown’s legacy languished for a time. While Trumbull Park was admired by the likes of Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks and Sterling Stuckey, several prominent critics minimized its importance, either by only seeing Brown in comparison to Richard Wright, or by criticizing him for not depicting, as R.L. Duffus of the New York Times complained, the “white people of Trumbull Park” and their “fears and frustrations.“
In the 1990s scholars began to re-examine Brown’s work and his place in literary history. In 2005, Northeastern University Press republished Trumbull Park with a foreword by Mary Helen Washington. His work has been anthologized in numerous anthologies and taught in college courses. Over the past two decades interest in his life and books continues to grow. As Brown once proclaimed of his friend Thelonious Monk, we finally can say of him: More man than myth, Frank London Brown has emerged from the shadows.
May 7, 1931–April 14, 2019
Inducted in 2019
This is a partial list of works by Wolfe, focusing on those which won awards.
The Book of the New Sun
The Shadow of the Torturer (1980)
The Claw of the Conciliator (1981)
The Sword of the Lictor (1982)
The Citadel of the Autarch (1983)
Free Live Free (1984)
The Urth of the New Sun (1987)
The Soldier series
Soldier of the Mist (1986)
Soldier of Arete (1989)
Soldier of Sidon (2006)
There Are Doors (1988)
The Book of the Long Sun
Nightside the Long Sun (1993)
Lake of the Long Sun (1994)
Caldé of the Long Sun (1994)
Exodus From the Long Sun (1996)
The Book of the Short Sun
On Blue's Waters (1999)
In Green's Jungles (2000)
Return to the Whorl (2001)
The Wizard Knight
The Knight (2004)
The Wizard (2004)
Pirate Freedom (2007)
An Evil Guest (2008)
The Sorcerer's House (2010)
Home Fires (2011)
The Land Across (2013)
A Borrowed Man (2015)
Interlibrary Loan (2020)
The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories (1980)
The title story is "The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories."
Gene Wolfe's Book of Days (1981)
Storeys from the Old Hotel (1988)
Endangered Species (1989)
Castle of Days (1995)
Strange Travelers (2001)
Innocents Aboard (2005)
Starwater Strains (2006)
The Best of Gene Wolfe (2010)
Great writing is writing that can be reread with increased pleasure and clearer understanding. Some simple truths are almost always rejected, anathema to the modern mind. One of these is that a good book can be written on any subject. And that a bad book can be written on any subject, too. A great writer is not merely great himself; he makes his readers great. Subjects are not good or bad, the writing makes them so.
When people who love literature talk about Gene Wolfe, five declarations almost always follow:
Gene is one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time.
Gene is a writer loved by writers.
A Gene Wolfe story can’t just be read once, because the experience improves with each reread.
Gene Wolfe’s narrators are sometimes unreliable and challenge the reader.
Gene’s stories are full of puzzles, allusions, and archaic diction.
What people don’t often say is that Gene Wolfe is a Chicago writer, a brilliant literary stylist whose work bridges his contemporaries, the New Wave speculative writers and postmodern magic realists.
Although he didn’t begin to publish stories until he was 34 years old and his first novel when he was 39, Gene Wolfe published more than 30 novels and more than 200 short stories before dying at the age of 87 on April 14, 2019. Much of that work is difficult to classify. Gene traverses genres, from science fiction to noir to mystery to ghost story to epistolary novel, digging deep into themes that recur and evolve: the origin of the Universe, the nature of good and evil, what it means to be a moral person in a morally corrupt world, the truth of memory and perception.
Gene Rodman Wolfe was born on May 7, 1931 in Brooklyn, New York. His father, Roy, was a traveling salesman, and so the family moved around when Gene was young, first to Peoria, Illinois; next to Massachusetts and Ohio; eventually on to Des Moines, Dallas, and Houston. In grammar school, the introverted Gene escaped into comics, model planes, and stories by Edgar Allan Poe, L. Frank Baum, and Rudyard Kipling. He discovered science fiction in The Pocket Book of Science Fiction, a pulp paperback shared with him by his mother, who was also a voracious reader. Theodore Sturgeon’s story “The Microcosmic God” opened a new world to Gene, who went on to spend many afternoons in junior high reading pulps behind the candy case at the pharmacy.
In high school, he had an English teacher who encouraged his writing, but Gene chose to pursue his degree in engineering at Texas A&M, where he wrote a few stories for its literary journal before deciding to drop out. He was drafted into the Army and served in Korea as a combat engineer from March 1953 to May 1954. He frequently wrote home to his mother, Mary “Fanny” Olivia Ayers Wolfe; the collection of those letters was later published as a book, Letters Home, in 1991.
Reading Gene’s war letters, full of playful and imaginative prose, reveals a blueprint for what was to come in his fiction. There were times when he was unapologetically
honest and relayed vivid details of the soldier’s life. Other times he took the tone of a correspondent: “G. Rodman Wolfe, your far-eastern correspondent with the 7th Div. in Korea,” or Wally Balloo of the “Asia News Letter,” no doubt using humor to assuage his parents’ fears. He spent one letter explaining a theory of how “this planet has been periodically, at least, visited by the inhabitants of other worlds” who, when seen, have mistakenly been identified as “witches, demons, fauns, werewolves, ghosts” etc. There were also painful letters, where we can read between the lines to get a sense for things that Gene chose not to tell his mother. Already, he was figuring out that certain information is better omitted, and certain stories needed to be told by different narrators in different ways.
After coming home from the Army, Gene attended the University of Houston on the GI Bill and earned his degree in mechanical engineering. He married his childhood friend from Peoria, Rosemary Dietsch, in 1956, and also converted to Catholicism, which shaped much of his life and writing. Gene then went to work in research and development for Procter and Gamble in Ohio, where he helped to develop the production equipment that made Pringles.
With the publication of his first story, “The Dead Man,” in Sir in 1965, Gene’s literary career began in earnest. Hoping to bring in extra money to help his wife and children, Gene began to write and publish more, assisted by the mentorship of editor and critic Damon Knight. The critical acclaim he received for The Fifth Head of
Cerberus in 1972 set him apart as an eloquent and sophisticated prose stylist. Knight invited him to participate in a prestigious writing retreat in Milford, Pennsylvania, where he workshopped his writing along with Ursula K. Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, and Frederik Pohl.
At that time, Gene moved his family back to Illinois, taking a job in the Chicago suburb of Barrington as a senior editor for the trade journal Plant Engineering. He worked there from 1972 to 1984 as robot editor, screws editor, letters-to-the-editor editor, glue editor, welding editor, and comics editor. While he and Rosemary raised
their four children, Gene would wake up early every day to write for an hour before work, as well as on the weekends. Finally after the success of The Book of the New Sun, Gene was able to quit his editor job to make a living as a full-time writer.
Gene Wolfe’s body of work is difficult to classify because so much of it exists at the intersection of what seem to be opposites. He was influenced by the classics and the Sunday Comics, novels of realism and the pulps, engineering manuals and religious texts. Gene’s dialogue might be conversational but is also peppered
with antiquated diction. His prose style could be both technically complicated and elegantly lyrical. Comfortably melding science fiction paradigms, the scientific method, and mythological archetypes, Gene invited his readers to occupy that same space—to suspend disbelief and step into the intersection of opposing ideas working together to get at a more accurate truth. That intersectionality is the context for Gene’s legacy as a Chicago writer. In the middle of the country, centered between the coasts with their respective styles and sensibilities, Chicago is a city “in between,” an urban metropolis with small town sensibilities, a city of skyscrapers and green spaces.
Chicago is also a city of borders: the enormity of Lake Michigan to the East, the rural landscape to the south and west, and within, neighborhoods defined by ethnic and racial borders as well. The Midwest, and Chicago in particular, evokes liminal spaces—a rich ethnic diversity and spiritual undercurrent brought to the city by waves of migrants and immigrants in the 20th century. Chicago writers like Stuart Dybek and Harry Mark Petrakis drew from their heritages to incorporate speculative elements into their lyric, descriptive prose, as they wrote about dwelling in those unique spaces. Like Dybek, Gene Wolfe’s writing is character-driven with carefully crafted sentences and symbolism and language choices that serve the story. Like Dybek, his writing also deals with themes of memory, time, and transformation. This can been seen in Gene’s beautiful 1975 novel Peace, where he presents us with a phantasmagorical Midwestern memoir that transforms as you read and reveals even more upon rereading.
His 1984 novel Free Live Free is set in a condemned building during a Chicago winter. Rich in detail and description, Free Live Free is a story about time and space, contradictions and border crossings. Sometimes those borders are actual places in the urban landscape, sometimes they are temporal or fantastic. At the heart of it, of course, there is a mystery, a question, a puzzle. Because that wasn’t just Gene’s technique. It was his point.
For six decades, Gene explored humanity’s relationship with the unknown and unknowable, be that outer space, the past or the future, the human mind or the human heart. The central truth of his stories is one of the best gifts that fiction, and especially science fiction, have to offer us: that people can change, the future can change, and the possibility of change means that there is hope.
—Valya Dudycz Lupescu
4/25/2001 - 4/25/2001
Inducted in 2018
During those years when Salima Rivera juggled a carnival of roles that included mother, activist, poet, and organizer, the bedroom door of her Pilsen apartment warned in bold writing, “Do Not Disturb.” Her work, it was understood, was important. Swathed in the ambiance of sandalwood, propped pillows, and a bookshelf displaying a broad range of intellectual and spiritual interests, Rivera wrote thoughtful and powerful poems that would scatter about the literary landscape and eventually, against all odds, come to be considered among the enduring works of her era. She also activated bold and desperately needed ideas to combat social injustice and create institutions that would give the Latino artist community the kind of support that appeared unlikely to come from anywhere else.
“She was always writing in her journals,” said her oldest daughter, Kayla Gonzalez. “She was one to get gangs involved in murals to get them off the street. She was very active with the Mexican Cultural Center. She was in the street with picket signs. Translating. She was out there.”
Rivera is associated with Pilsen, in part due to the fact that her most recognizable poem is named after the neighborhood, but she made camp all over Chicago. The apartment building at 1439 W. Taylor in Little Italy served as her childhood home, the place in which she first expressed her artistic side as she sang and cooked around the house, and eventually showed proclivity for words as a student at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School.
Perhaps it was preordained that Rivera would eventually take up serious issues, like politics, race, gender equality, and even loneliness. The eldest daughter of Luis and Florentina Rivera was born in the small coastal town of Isabela, Puerto Rico, but arrived in the U.S. that same year. Her father took employment at the Anaconda Copper Mining Company in Salt Lake City, but within two years a strike forced him to move his family to Chicago. The day the Riveras moved into that Taylor Street three-flat, the funeral home that occupied the lowest level moved out.
“We were moving in when they were moving the coffins out,” said Salima’s older brother, Jaime. “The dead were leaving and the living were coming in.”
Jaime who, like his sister, was active in the literary scene of the late 60s and 70s, said Salima was “a constant mover.” A partial list of her residences includes not only Little Italy and Pilsen, but Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Bronzeville, and more. Maybe Rivera’s exposure to such a range of people and places emboldened her work. She charmed, bullied, and willed her way into neighborhood bookstores, coffee shops, and universities, where she would whisper out her romantic poems and bang out her politically-charged pieces. All the while, she made more artist friends, and continued to do what could be done to get her expanding circle of Latino writers heard.
“It was difficult for Latino artists in Chicago,” said Jaime. “There weren’t many venues. We had to start creating our own. Salima became one of the preeminent organizers in the Latina community.”
Scholars now credit Rivera with having played a vital part in Chicago’s Latino literary renaissance of the 1960s and 70s. She founded, alongside her mentor and future Chicago Literary Hall of Fame inductee David Hernandez, foundational Latino literary workshops Los Otros Poetry Collective and La Taller. These early collectives demanded a space and recognition for Chicago Latino writers, enabling later authors, like Ana Castillo and Sandra Cisneros, to gain national acclaim. Rivera later was also involved in Galleria Quique, a salon at the home of Cisneros’ brother. In her most active decades, Rivera worked with many community organizations, including Casa Aztlán, Movimiento Artístico Chicano, the Westtown Concerned Citizens Coalition, and, for her last twenty years, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Rivera was one of the literary stars of The Association of the Latino Brotherhood and then Taller, which she, Hernandez, and a few others founded in the wake of the Puerto Rican Division Street uprising against Puerto Rican marginalization and police violence in 1966.
Rivera published and performed her poetry throughout Chicago for more than 30 years. She established a reputation as a top poet through her broad inclusion in literary journals and anthologies that included Third World Woman, ECOS (including early work by Cisneros and Castillo), Emergency Tacos (again with Cisneros) and Power Lines: A Decade of Poetry From Chicago’s Guild Complex (Tia Chucha Press). Rivera’s work was featured in a section of the special Chicago “Nosotros” Spring 1977 issue of Revista Chicana-Riqueña.
“No one should be fooled by Salima Rivera; her poetry is not marginal poetry, only marginalized poetry in literary historiography, underappreciated by literary critics,” said Juana Goergen, who edited the posthumous collection of Rivera’s poetry, It’s Not About Dreams. “Perhaps this is due to the fact that her poetry appeared in anthologies and/or literary journals, at a time when literary criticism validated only the work of poets who had published books.”
Rivera established herself as a visual artist as well as a poet, but was largely self-taught. Typical of Puerto Rican women of her generation, Rivera did not pursue formal education extensively—after her years at Crane Technical and Richard Vocational High Schools, she briefly took classes at Columbia College. That visual training, especially as a graphic designer, manifests itself in strong poetic imagery.
“Salima wrote longingly about the roots of the tropical Ceiba tree, but her own roots were set deep beneath Chicago’s asphalt,” said Julie Parson Nesbitt, in the supporting statement for her 2015 CLHOF nomination. “Salima’s work is passionate, unapologetic, erotic, political, and profound. Her poems excavate her often-conflicting identities as Puerto Rican, Chicagoan, woman, and artist. They vary in poetic polish, but they are always unforgettable.”
According to critic Marc Zimmerman, who nominated Rivera for the CLHOF in 2016, “In the 1980s and ’90s, living on the near West Side with her husband, Mexican artist Oscar Moya, and their son, she was probably the first Chicago Rican writer to deal with many Mexican as well as Puerto Rican, feminist and nationalist themes, and for these reasons, as well as others, a very essential figure in the history of the Latino cultural emergence of the 1970s.”
Rivera’s status as an influential and important Chicago poet has been recognized in a variety of ways. The interdisciplinary artist Nicole Marroquin created a silkscreen entitled Salima Rivera and Her Poem that is on exhibit at Triton College. Rivera is one of four legendary Puerto Ricans depicted in the “Pierce Street Legends Mural Project,” which was unveiled at a ceremony in West Humboldt Park on Sept. 29, 2018. In the fall of 2014, the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture featured Rivera, along with Hernandez, in a presentation commemorating her pioneering efforts as a poet and activist.
Broken glass glitters
like old discarded jewels
under harsh street lights
turning vacant lots
into treasure chests of debris.
from Rivera’s “Pilsen”
Samuel Eldred Greenlee, Jr.
July 13, 1930 – May 19, 2014
Inducted in 2018
The Spook Who Sat by the Door, 1969.
Baghdad Blues, 1976.
Blues for an African Princess, 1971.
Ammunition!: Poetry and Other Raps (introduction Andrew Salkey), 1975.
Be-Bop Man/Be-Bop Woman, 1968–1993: Poetry and Other Raps, 1995.
"Yes, We Can Sing", Negro Digest, 1965.
"The Sign", Negro Digest, 1966.
"Summer Sunday", Negro Digest, 1966.
"Autumn Leaves", in Negro Digest, 1967.
"The D.C. Blues", Negro Digest, 1969.
"Sonny's Seasons", Black World, 1970.
"Sonny's Not Blue", in Woodie King (ed.), Black Short Story Anthology, 1972.
"Blues for Little Prez", in Black World, 1973.
"One thing about Chicago, he thought; even in the ghetto there are trees and grass."
from The Spook Who Sat by the Door
You could find Sam Greenlee at Daley’s, on East 63rd Street, selling DVD copies of The Spook Who Sat by The Door. He’d tell you the DVD was free, but his signature was twenty bucks, and he’d tell you he was “bootlegging his own movie.”
That movie, and the novel upon which it was based, is Greenlee’s lasting legacy, but more so it represents the life he lived in and for his Woodlawn community. Greenlee wrote the screenplay and raised the money among his own people—no Hollywood investors, no speculators, no white art patrons—and the cult classic film continues to be talked about and seen more than 40 years after its initial release.
“Sam represented a voice of consistency,” says Pemon Rami, who played Shorty Duncan in the film and remained close friends with Greenlee the rest of his life. “He was consistent in his message: consistent in his message to the city, consistent in his revolutionary fervor, consistent in his criticism of things affecting the community. People loved him for that.”
Greenlee was born in Woodlawn to a railroad worker and chorus dancer, and raised primarily by grandparents. He attended local public schools, matriculating along with Lorraine Hansberry all through grade and high school. He was just a sophomore at Englewood High School when he participated in his first sit-in and walked his first picket line. His activism would define his life until the end. His State Department career and his academic pursuits took him away from Chicago for long periods, but he remained close to the community throughout his life. He saw the neighborhood through various incarnations, from relatively prosperous days through the worst years of gang violence and then a return to sanity. He walked, he biked, he bused, in his later years he rode his wheelchair through the streets of Woodlawn.
“He was hardly at home except to read, or listen to jazz,” said his daughter Natiki Pressley. “He liked the outdoors. He rode his bike or went on long walks. We’d go to a lot of restaurants. I don’t ever remember going to a place where nobody knew him.”
It was Greenlee’s experience in Baghdad in the 1950s, during the Revolution, that provided fodder for Spook. Sam was a member of the United States Information Agency, a branch of the State Department. He returned to Chicago to witness racism and other atrocities happening in his black community, and according to Rami, “he made some choices.”
“When he was a young writer, he could have done anything: he could have done fluff, frivolous comedy. He chose to make a movie that represented what he felt, and what our community needed to connect, to be committed, to the resurrection of our community.”
The novel’s protagonist, Dan Freeman, gets a token position as the first Black C.I.A. officer, and he tolerates a brief, demeaning career in order to learn and bring home to Chicago the intricacies of revolution. Freeman’s experience provided him with the knowledge and experience to make Molotov cocktails, hold up banks, and steal firearms. The popularity of the story relies on the clever plot, in which young Black men use the White establishment’s own power against it. This form of social justice, while criticized by some, appealed, if only as a fantasy, to a segment of the Black population running short on patience.
The film, directed by Ivan Dixon and starring Lawrence Cook, won inclusion in the National Film Registry’s catalog of American movies, a testament to the story’s lasting cultural significance. Herbie Hancock, an old friend of Greenlee’s, provided the movie’s score. A remastered version by Tim and Daphne Reid was released on DVD in 2004. Sunday Times (London) named the novel, which eventually sold more than a million copies in six languages, its Book of the Year.
But while Greenlee’s legacy resides firmly in the acclaim of his most successful novel, his oeuvre includes another fine novel, Baghdad Blues (Black Issues Book Review listed it as one of 1976’s bestselling books by a black author), as well as three collections of poetry. He wrote a number of stage plays, journalistic pieces, short stories, and left an unfinished memoir and another novel, Djakarta Blues. Greenlee’s interest in Greek culture, cultivated while living and studying on the island of Mykonos in the Aegean Sea, manifested itself in an adaptation of Lysistrata. He taught screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago and hosted a radio show on WVON.
“Sam was really a poet, a very good poet,” said Useni Eugene Perkins. “He knew a lot about history. Sam was somewhat of a scholar; he could talk about many subjects because he was well read.”
Greenlee was named Illinois Poet Laureate in 1990, one of many notable recognitions he received throughout his life, including a 1989 Ragdale Foundation fellowship, a 1990 Illinois Arts Council fellowship, and induction into Chicago State University’s National Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent. He was also given the meritorious service award for bravery during the 1958 Baghdad revolution.
“Sam, though extremely erudite, chose to use a language that made his art readily available to the man and woman on the street,” said the poet Sterling Plumpp. “That was a choice, it was not a limitation for Sam. They were the people that he cherished in his novels. His poetry is pithy, and highly ironical.” Plumpp names Ammunition! as Greenlee’s finest collection, saying that it best captures “the scope of his vision.”
Greenlee’s memorial service, held at the DuSable Museum, demonstrated the author’s long reach through Chicago and beyond. The museum swelled with people who knew Greenlee as a friend, family member, or colleague, including prominent figures such as Rami, Plumpp, Tim Reid, and Robert Townsend. But it also was packed with people who knew Sam as a fixture in the neighborhood, or through his work.
“They all knew him,” said Rami. “They respected him because he had a love for that community, and he stayed there, that was his home. And he always went home.”
Poet and Third World Press publisher Haki Madhubuti, who was instrumental in the publication of Greenlee’s first book of poetry and his recognition at Chicago State University, said, “He was a good man, and a fine poet.”
Pressley acknowledged that community, perhaps above all else, ranked as her father’s greatest concern. “He believed it was important to be independent and for our community to support ourselves. Art should come from us, but also the finances.”
For Greenlee, his art and his life seemed inseparable, and his masterful output relied on the Chicago to which he was born, raised, and forever devoted, no matter how far his adventures took him.
“Part of the greatness of Sam Greenlee was his experience in growing up in Woodlawn,” said Plumpp. “Sam grew up in a Chicago where you had full-blown African American communities that were not full-blown ghettos. It was a vibrant community that produced Lorraine Hansberry, Richard Hunt, Oscar Brown, Jr., Willard Motley and his brother, Gwendolyn Brooks. You had Margaret Burroughs, the South Side Community Arts Center, Tim Black, the same community that produced Harold Washington, Nat King Cole. It was a healthy African American community that was confined by race to a specific space, but never had downcast eyes. Eyes were always focused on the sky.”
Frank Marshall Davis
December 31, 1905 – July 26, 1987
Inducted in 2018
Black Man's Verse, 1935.
I Am the American Negro, 1937.
Through Sepia Eyes, 1938.
47th Street: Poems, 1948.
Black Man's Verse, 1961.
Sex Rebel: Black (Memoirs of a Gash Gourmet), (written under pseudonym "Bob Greene"), 1968.
Jazz Interludes: Seven Musical Poems, 1977.
Awakening and Other Poems, 1978.
Livin' the Blues: Memoirs of a Black Journalist and Poet, ed. John Edgar Tidwell, 1992.
Black Moods: Collected Poems, ed. John Edgar Tidwell, 2002.
Writings of Frank Marshall Davis: A Voice of the Black Press, ed. by John Edgar Tidwell, 2007.
This song has no tune. You cannot hum it.
This song has no words. You cannot sing it.
This song everybody knows, nobody knows.
It is in a pattern of brown faces at the Wabash Y.M.C.A., a 35th Street gambling place, a Parkway theatre—you get it or you don’t
It is a melody of everything and nothing
from “Chicago’s Congo”
Frank Marshall Davis distinguished himself as a top poet and journalist during the 1930s and 40s, and produced a considerable body of work that influenced generations of poets. He worked at a series of newspapers, including as executive editor of the labor weekly Chicago Star, which he co-founded. He also wrote fiction and published a classic essay in Negro Digest’s 1944 series “My Most Humiliating Jim Crow Experience.” He was a core member of the group of Black authors on the Federal Writers’ Project in Chicago who formed the South Side Writers’ Group to hone what would become, according to scholar Andrew Peart in his Chicago Literary Hall of Fame nomination of Davis, “a distinctive style of 1940s black literature in Chicago, blending social realism, race consciousness, and protest.”
Peart also said that, “Marshall’s poetry collections Black Man’s Verse (1935), I Am the American Negro (1937), and 47th Street: Poems (1948) rank alongside Margaret Walker’s For My People (1942) and Gwendolyn Brooks’s A Street in Bronzeville (1945) as Chicago’s cornerstones of black poetic modernism.”
Davis was born and raised in racist Arkansas City, Kansas, where, according to John Edgar Tidwell, White children nearly killed Davis because they wanted to experience a lynching. He attended Friends University in Wichita before transferring to Kansas State Agricultural College’s school of journalism, where Davis first was exposed to writing free verse.
In 1927, Davis moved to Chicago, where he wrote articles and short stories for magazines and newspapers. Davis left Chicago three years later to take an editorship in Atlanta, but returned in 1935, the year his first book was published. Between 1935 and 1947, Davis was Executive Editor for the Associated Negro Press in Chicago. He also formed a photography club, participated in the League of American Writers, and was active in politics.
Davis’s insistent exploration of Black life resulted in a great number of classic poems that protested racial inequality and promoted Black pride. He displayed an unabashed self-awareness in many poems, but most of all in “Frank Marshall Davis: Writer.”
It went, “When I wrote / I dipped my pen / In the crazy heart / Of mad America.”
Biographer Kathryn Waddell Takara notes that Davis belonged to the New Negros coming out of the Negro Renaissance of the 1920s, a category of writers exhibiting pride in their race. She writes that he was “more than a polemicist. Davis was also a humanist, a complex yet idealistic individual who defied convention yet maintained a utopian perspective throughout his long life.”
Indeed, Marshall gained much acclaim for his poetic vision, starting with his inaugural publication. Harriet Monroe wrote in Poetry that Marshall was “a poet of authentic inspiration, who belongs not only among the best of his race, but who need not lean upon his race for recognition as an impassioned singer with something to say.”
Black Man’s Verse combined Davis’s interest in jazz and free verse with blunt criticism of racial oppression. Sterling A. Brown, considered a quintessential “blues poet,” stated that Davis “at his best is bitterly realistic.” Tidwell argued that Davis ranked with Langston Hughes as a primary precursor to the 1960s “jazz poetry.” The section of the book called, “Ebony under Granite,” tells the stories of Black people buried in a cemetery; that led many to compare the collection to Edgar Lee Masters’s Spoon River Anthology.
I Am the American Negro, Davis’s second book, continued in its harsh critique of racism, in particular Jim Crow laws.
Davis’s finest collection, 47th Street, was published in 1948, the year Davis’s vacation to Honolulu, Hawaii, turned into a permanent relocation. 47th Street chronicles the diverse South Side culture and people. His exploration of a myriad of races signaled a move toward concern with class as much as color.
Richard Guzman writes that “Davis’ poetry is notable not only for its social engagement, especially in the fight against racism, but also for its fluent, lyrical language and stunning imagery.” Guzman notes that in addition to Davis’s short lyrics, he also produced long-form poetry that was often arranged as mini-dramas.
This experimentation with form, along with Davis’s unique and powerful messages, inspired a great number of writers, as well as future president Barrack Obama, who famously wrote about his mentor in his memoir.
“An early poet that inspired me was without doubt or hesitation Frank Marshall Davis,” said poet Haki Madhubuti. “He was a poet I would go back to because he was able to steal an idea with such a few lines. There is irony in his poetry, and he has the ability to cauterize an idea. For me, Frank Marshall Davis set the example for a conscientious serious writer who cared for Black people deeply. He told us about our world.”
Davis stayed in Hawaii the remainder of his life. He wrote a weekly newspaper column, ran a small wholesale paper business, and raised five children. The Black Arts Movement rediscovered Davis’s work after a period in which his popularity had declined. In 1978, Davis published his final poetry collection, Awakening, and Other Poems.
Black Moods: Collected Poems (2002) and Livin’ the Blues: Memories of a Black Journalist and Poet (1992) were published posthumously.
Henry Blake Fuller
January 9, 1857 – July 28, 1929
Inducted in 2017
The Chevalier of Pensieri–Vani (1890: pseudonym Stanton Page)
The Châtelaine of La Trinité (1892)
The Cliff-Dwellers (1893)
With the Procession (1895)
The Puppet-Booth: Twelve Plays (1896)
From the Other Side (1898)
The Last Refuge (1900)
Under the Skylights (1901)
Waldo Trench and Others: Stories of Americans in Italy (1908)
Lines Long and Short: Biographical Sketches in Various Rhythms (1917)
On the Stairs (1918)
Bertram Cope's Year (1919)
Gardens of this World (1929)
With the Procession (1965)
Henry Blake Fuller was a third generation Chicagoan born in a house that sat on the lot that is now LaSalle Street Station. He wrote a score of novels and stories set in the city, The Cliff-Dwellers (1893), With the Procession (1895), Under the Skylights (1901), and On the Stairs (1918). His play At St. Judas’s (1896) is considered the first published literary work exploring homosexual themes, and his novel Bertram Cope’s Year (1919), set at a fictionalized Northwestern University, was the first mainstream novel depicting a homosexual relationship. Fuller had failed to find a commercial publisher and eventually a friend published the novel at his tiny Chicago-based Alderbrink Press.
Fuller was one of the earliest and best Chicago writers; in fact, upon the publication of his first book, East Coast reviewers, enamored with the story, expressed surprise that something so good had come out of Chicago. Fuller’s first Chicago novel, coming after two successful novels based on his European travels, came out the year of the Columbian Exposition, 1893, and was critical of the city’s crass commercialism. The Cliff-Dwellers is probably the first realistic Chicago novel, in that it explored the social and economic trends changing the face of Chicago; in it, Fuller applied the term “cliff-dwellers” to the people occupying the fictitious Clifton Building, modeled after the Monadnock Building. H.L. Mencken, in reference to the work, claimed that Fuller had “launched realism in America.”
Adam Morgan, editor of the Chicago Review of Books, quotes Dr. Joseph Dimuro of UCLA as calling The Cliff-Dwellers “arguably the first important novel of the American city.”
In fact, during and just after his life, Fuller was widely praised by critics and peers, including Theodore Dreiser,Thornton Wilder, Booth Tarkington, and Carl Van Vechten. William Dean Howells called The Cliff-Dwellers “a work of very great power.”
Fuller was one of the founding members of the Eagle’s Nest Art Colony (Oregon, Illinois), sat on an advisory board for Harriet Monroe’s upstart Poetry magazine, and was a preeminent member of the literary club called The Little Room. Hamlin Garland took from his friend Fuller’s novel the name for the new club, The Cliff Dwellers, he helped form.
June 16, 1898 – December 6, 1971
Inducted in 2017
"The Hands–A Story" Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life 3 (1925)
"The Prison-Bound" The Crisis 32 (1926)
"Nothing New" The Crisis 33 (1926)
"One Boy's Story" The Crisis 34 (1927: pseudonym: Joseph Maree Andrew)
"Drab Rambles" The Crisis 34 (1927)
"A Possible Triad of Black Notes, Part One" Opportunity 11 (1933)
"A Possible Triad of Black Notes, Part Two: Of Jimmie Harris" Opportunity 11 (1933)
"A Possible Triad of Black Notes, Part Three: Three Tales of Living Corner Store" Opportunity 11 (1933)
"Tin Can" Opportunity 12 (1934)
"A Sealed Pod" Opportunity 14 (1936)
"Black Fronts" Opportunity 16 (1938)
"Hate is Nothing" The Crisis 45 (1938: pseudonym: Joyce M. Reed)
"The Makin's" Opportunity 17 (1939)
"The Whipping" The Crisis 46 (1939)
"Hongry Fire" The Crisis 46 (1939)
"Patch Quilt" The Crisis 47 (1940)
"One True Love" The Crisis 48 (1941)
"On Being Young–A Woman–And Colored" The Crisis (1925)
"The Young Blood Hungers" The Crisis 35 (1928)
"Review of Autumn Love Cycle, by Georgia Douglas Johnson" Opportunity 7 (1929)
"The Pot-Maker (A Play to be Read)" Opportunity 5 (1927)
"The Purple Flower" The Crisis (1928)
"Exit–An Illusion" The Crisis 36 (1929)
Frye Street and Environs: The Collected Works of Marita Bonner (1987)
Marita Bonner, an accomplished short story writer, playwright and essayist, was a black woman who left Boston for Chicago in the thirties and lived there until her death in 1971. At Radcliffe College, despite being barred from living in the college’s dormitories, she majored in English and Comparative Literature, also studying German and musical composition. From 1924-1941, Bonner published short stories and essays in African American journals such as Opportunity, The Crisis, and Black Life, illuminating the lives and struggles of urban black women as they fought to improve the lot of themselves and their families in Harlem and Chicago. These included her landmark 1925 essay On Being Young–A Woman–And Colored, which was published in The Crisis and which exemplified her ferocious exploration of the enormous prejudices—class, race, and gender—barring opportunity. In 1930, Bonner married William Almy Occomy and moved to Chicago, where she raised three children and later taught school, first at Phillips High School and then Dolittle School, which served educationally deprived students. Her best-known works are her plays The Purple Flower (1928) and The Pot Maker (1927), as well as her Frye Street stories, set in a multi-ethnic, strife-torn Chicago. Distinguished Chicago literary scholar Richard Guzman notes that her 1926 short story, “Nothing New,” introduced her fictional street as one not only of hardship, but promise. He also credits Bonner for influencing writers such as Alice Browning and Era Bell Thompson. A collection of her work was published in 1987 as Frye Street and Environs: The Collected Works of Marita Bonner.
Robert Sengstacke Abbott
November 24, 1868 – February 29, 1940
Inducted in 2017
From errand boy to lawyer to publisher, as founder of one of the most read Black newspapers in the United States, Robert Sengstacke Abbott gave voice to a Black point of view that had been rendered mute in the early twentieth century.
Born in Georgia to a couple whose parents had been slaves, Abbott was still a baby when his father, Thomas Abbott, died of leukemia. His mother, Flora, later married John Sengstacke, a mulatto of German descent who promptly added Sengstacke to Robert’s name.
Abbott graduated from Hampton Institute in Virginia. After college he moved to Chicago, a city to which he had been exposed while singing with the Hampton College Quartet at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. He graduated from Chicago’s Kent College of Law in 1898, but because of racial prejudice was unable to practice law. Armed with a printing background and academic credentials, he converting a $25 investment into the Chicago Defender Newspaper. With the assistance of J. Hockley Smiley, The Chicago Defender became the literary domain for racial advancement. The Defender actively promoted the northward migration of Black Southerners, particularly to Chicago. Its columns not only reported on the movement, but helped to bring about 1917’s “Great Northern Drive,” a term coined by Abbott himself. By the early 20s, The Defender’s circulation reached more than 200,000 people. Distribution of the paper was facilitated by Black railroad porters who both read and shared The Defender. The Defender wrote of injustices but also of a spirit that represented unapologetic Black pride, dignity and assertiveness.
The newspaper also fostered literary careers. At 17, Gwendolyn Brooks started submitting her work to "Lights and Shadows," the newspaper’s poetry column, and eventually published almost a hundred poems there. Willard Motley and Langston Hughes were just a few of the other big names for whom the Defender was a literary home.
Married twice, Abbott had no children. The Chicago Defender was left in the capable hands of his nephew John H.H. Sengstacke III. Abbott lived at 4742 S. Martin Luther King Drive, Chicago, now a historic landmark known as Robert S. Abbott House.
May 9, 1930 – January 12, 1965
Inducted in 2010
A Raisin in the Sun (1959)
A Raisin in the Sun, screenplay (1961)
"On Summer" (essay) (1960)
The Drinking Gourd (1960)
What Use Are Flowers? (c. 1962)
The Arrival of Mr. Todog—parody of Waiting for Godot
The Movement: Documentary of a Struggle for Equality (1964)
The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window (1965)
To Be Young, Gifted and Black: Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words (1969)
Les Blancs: The Collected Last Plays / by Lorraine Hansberry. Edited by Robert Nemiroff (1994)
When Hansberry’s Raisin in the Sun burst onto the scene in 1959, she became the youngest American playwright, the first African-American to be produced on Broadway, and only the fifth woman to win the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best play of the year. She also received a Cannes Film Festival special award in 1961 for the screenplay to her famous play. She died just three years later. Though Hansberry’s other works, notably To Be Young, Gifted and Black, are substantial, it is Raisin that provides her lasting legacy. The play, which draws from Hansberry’s experiences in the only black family in the racially desegregated Washington Park subdivision on Chicago’s South Side, continues to be one of the most produced and discussed plays more than forty years after her death.
Native Son: The Biography of a Young American with Paul Green (1941)
How "Bigger" Was Born; Notes of a Native Son (1940)
12 Million Black Voices: A Folk History of the Negro in the United States (1941)
Black Boy (1945)
Black Power (1954)
The Color Curtain (1956)
Pagan Spain (1957)
Letters to Joe C. Brown (1968)
American Hunger (1977)
Black Power: Three Books from Exile (2008)
The Ethics Of Living Jim Crow: An Autobiographical Sketch (1937)
Introduction to Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City (1945)
I Choose Exile (1951)
White Man, Listen! (1957)
Blueprint for Negro Literature (1937)
The God that Failed (contributor) (1949)
Haiku: This Other World (eds. Yoshinobu Hakutani and Robert L. Tener, 1998)
Haiku: The Last Poetry of Richard Wright (2012)
Winner of the Springarn Medal, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Story Magazine Award, Wright’s highly-lauded novel Native Son deals with racial inequality in Chicago’s ghettos, as, to some extent, does his memoir, Black Boy. Bigger Thomas, Native Son’s protagonist, is a victim and a criminal living in utter poverty on the South Side, and through him Wright explores the intricacies of societal conditioning in the violence that characterized impoverished black neighborhoods. The Book of the Month Club chose Native Son as its first book written by an African-American. Wright has had a Chicago school named after him, and been featured on a U.S. Postal stamp.
The Angel That Troubled the Waters and Other Plays (1928)
The Long Christmas Dinner and Other Plays in One Act (1931)
Our Town (1938)—won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama
The Merchant of Yonkers (1938)
The Skin of Our Teeth (1942)
The Matchmaker (1954)
The Alcestiad: Or, a Life in the Sun (1955)
Plays for Bleecker Street (1962)
The Collected Short Plays of Thornton Wilder Volume I (1997)
Shadow of a Doubt
The Cabala (1926)
The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927)
The Woman of Andros (1930) based on Andria, a comedy by Terence
Heaven's My Destination (1935)
Ides of March (1948)
The Eighth Day (1967)
Theophilus North (1973)
Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Wilder worked as both a novelist and a playwright. Growing up, Wilder was often teased by children his age for being too intellectual. This quirk, however, was a great benefit in his education at Yale and Princeton. In 1930 he began teaching classics and writing at The University of Chicago, a part-time appointment he held for six years. Penelope Niven, who recently published a biography of Wilder, said the writer found the perfect balance of creative, professional and personal balance in Chicago, and loved the city more than all the others he experienced in his lifetime. During this time, Wilder wrote translations, plays, screenplays and began notes for Our Town, for which he would eventually win the Pulitzer Prize. The Skin of Our Teeth also earned him a Pulitzer and his novel The Bridge of San Luis Ray highly lauded. His writing was considered prolific in the exploration of connections between the common human life and the dimensions of human experience.
The Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States (1895)
Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases (1892)
Why the Colored American is Not in the World’s Columbian Exposition
Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of IDA B. Wells, Ida B.Wells and Alfreda M. Duster (1970)
The daughter of Mississippi slaves freed after the Civil War, Ida B. Wells became an early leader in the Civil Rights and women’s rights movements. She came to Chicago to help organize a boycott and contribute to the writing of a pamphlet called Why the Colored American is Not in the World’s Columbian Exposition. She remained in the city and was active in her own Ida B. Wells Club as well as the Chicago Women’s Club. Throughout her career, Wells stood up against injustice, writing, in pamphlets and for media such as the Chicago Conservator, about issues such as lynchings, Jim Crow laws and white suppression of black economic progress. Around 1894, she became the first black correspondent for a mainstream white newspaper. She spent the last 30 years of her life working for urban reform in Chicago. Her autobiography, Crusade for Justice, was unfinished when she died. A Chicago Housing Authority project is named after Wells, a U.S. postal stamp issued with her likeness, and a journalism award and scholarship fund given through the foundation established in Chicago by her five grandchildren.
Political playwright Theodore Ward used his writing to help contribute to the success and continuation of art during the Great Depression. Originally born in Louisiana, Ward left his hometown of Thibodaux, Louisiana at 13 and traveled extensively in the United States, picking up work as a book-black and bellboy. He attended the University of Utah and while there wrote an article that earned him a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin, where he hosted a local radio program. In Chicago, Ward taught at the Lincoln Center Players, and the friendship he formed with Richard Wright led him to join the Southside Writer’s Club. It was in his job with the Chicago Negro unit that Ward created Big White Fog, a play that none-too-subtly argues that America’s capitalist and racism system disallowed many people from participating in our country’s supposed right to aspire to greater class heights. He was one of the first Black dramatists to win the Guggenheim Fellowship, which allowed him to push his career forward and publish thirty plays. His legacy lives on through scholarships offered in his honor to African-American writers.
July 7, 1915 – November 30, 1998
Inducted in 2014
For My People (1942)
October Journey (1973)
This Is My Century: New and Collected Poems (1989)
How I Wrote Jubilee and Other Essays on Life and Literature, Maryemma Graham, ed. (1990)
Conversations with Margaret Walker, Maryemma Graham, ed. (2002)
The child of parents with high hopes and expectations, Margaret Walker, just two generations removed from slavery, made her mark on American literature with four volumes of poetry, a novel, a biography and many critical essays. Her body of work included For My People (1942), the title poem winning her the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition, and Jubilee (1966), a story based on her great-grandmother's life as a slave that took her 30 years to write. Both works were groundbreaking. With For My People, Walker became one of the youngest published black poets of the 20th century and perhaps the first to win a national literary prize of such note; with Jubilee, she wrote, some contend, the first truly historical black novel and became a pioneer in championing the liberation of the black woman. Her legacy resides on a reputation as one of the foremost historians of African-American heritage.
Though born in Birmingham, AL and associated with many other places throughout her life, Chicago was a source for Walker’s education and inspiration. Walker was just 19 when she received her B.A. from Northwestern University in 1935, eventually earning both her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. During her several years in Chicago working with troubled, "at risk" girls for the Federal Writer's Project under the Works Progress Administration, and living on Chicago's North Side, she became a part of the South Side Writers Group and partly through that association forged close relationships with other writers such as: James Phelan, Frank Yerby and Richard Wright—a friend she would later aid in researching his landmark 1940 novel Native Son. She would later write a biography of Wright. Walker’s contribution to the FWP included a dialectic piece, “Yalluh Hammuh,” whose folk hero would make its way into the pages of For My People. Chicago yielded her more literary inspiration in the form of an Italian-American neighborhood so fascinating to her she used it as the setting and title for another novel, never to be published, Goose Island.
In 1998, Walker was inducted into the African-American Literary Hall of Fame at Chicago State University. She died of breast cancer at the Chicago home of her daughter.
Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (1970)
Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (1974)
Talking to Myself: A Memoir of My Times (1977)
American Dreams: Lost and Found (1983)
The Good War (1984)
The Great Divide: Second Thoughts on the American Dream (1988)
Race: What Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession (1992)
Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century by Those Who’ve Lived It (1995)
My American Century (1997)
The Spectator: Talk About Movies and Plays With Those Who Make Them (1999)
Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Reflections on Death, Rebirth and Hunger for a Faith (2001)
Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Difficult Times (2003)
And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey (2005)
Touch and Go (2007)
P.S. Further Thoughts From a Lifetime of Listening (2008)
Terkel, the master of oral history, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1985 for chronicling World War II in The Good War. Born in New York to a tailor and a seamstress, Terkel, at the age of eight, moved with his family to Chicago, where he spent most of his life. In his teens, his parents ran a rooming house that was a collecting point for people of all types. Terkel credited his knowledge of the world to the tenants who gathered in the lobby of the hotel and the people who congregated in nearby Bughouse Square. He never tired of the stories of "ordinary" people and in his second book (and first book of oral history interviews), Division Street: America, a metaphorical title that derived from Chicago's true Division Street, Terkel captured 20th century urban life as told to him by those ordinary folks living in and around Chicago. Division Street set the pattern his subsequent books would follow and established Terkel's reputation as the world's foremost oral historian.
They Call Me Carpenter: A Tale of the Second Coming (1922)
The Millennium (1924)
The Goslings A Study Of The American Schools (1924)
The Spokesman's Secretary (1926)
Money Writes! (1927)
Boston, 2 vols. (1928)
Mountain City (1930)
Roman Holiday (1931)
The Wet Parade (1931)
American Outpost (1932)
The Way Out (novel) (1933)
Immediate Epic (1933)
The Lie Factory Starts (1934)
The Book of Love (1934)
Depression Island (1935)
It Can't Happen Here (1935)
Co-op: a Novel of Living Together (1936)
The Gnomobile (1936)
Wally for Queen (1936)
No Pasaran!: A Novel of the Battle of Madrid (1937)
The Flivver King: A Story of Ford-America (1937)
Little Steel (1938)
Our Lady (1938)
Expect No Peace (1939)
Marie Antoinette (novel) (1939)
Telling The World (1939)
Your Million Dollars (1939)
World's End (1940)
World's End Impending (1940)
Between Two Worlds (1941)
Dragon's Teeth (1942)
Wide Is the Gate (1943)
Presidential Agent 1944)
Dragon Harvest (1945)
A World to Win (1946)
A Presidential Mission (1947)
A Giant's Strength (1948)
Limbo on the Loose (1948)
One Clear Call (1948)
O Shepherd, Speak! (1949)
Another Pamela (1950)
Schenk Stefan! (1951)
A Personal Jesus (1952)
The Return of Lanny Budd (1953)
The Cup of Fury (1956)
What Didymus Did (1954)
It Happened to Didymus (1958)
Theirs be the Guilt (1959)
Affectionately Eve (1961)
The Coal War (1976)
The Autobiography of Upton Sinclair. With Maeve Elizabeth Flynn III (1962)
My Lifetime in Letters (1960)
Plays of Protest: The Naturewoman, The Machine, The Second-Story Man, Prince Hagen (1912)
The Pot Boiler (1913)
Hell: A Verse Drama and Photoplay (1924)
Singing Jailbirds: A Drama in Four Acts (1924)
Bill Porter: A Drama of O. Henry in Prison (1925)
The Enemy Had It Too: A Play in Three Acts (1950)
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest (1915)
Though he had a strong career writing films upon the request of Charlie Chaplain, Sinclair was praised for his strong, political works of writing. His best selling novel, The Jungle, was the product of seven weeks of undercover work in Chicago’s meatpacking plants. After the success, Sinclair attempted to run for office in California twice but was unsuccessful. His political passion, however, shone through in his writing. Sinclair was originally born in Baltimore, Maryland, but then moved to New York with his family. He would sell jokes and magazine articles to pay for his education. He was drawn to Chicago after reading of the meatpacking strikes in Chicago. His novel is said to have influenced President Theodore Roosevelt into creating the Food and Drug Administration.
Uncle Shelby's Story of Lafcadio: The Lion Who Shot Back (1963)
A Giraffe and a Half (1964)
The Giving Tree (1964)
Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros? (1964)
Uncle Shelby's Zoo: Don't Bump the Glump! and Other Fantasies (1964)
More Playboy's Teevee Jeebies (1965)
Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974)
The Missing Piece (1976)
The Devil And Billy Markham (1979)
Different Dances (1979)
A Light in the Attic (1981).
The Missing Piece Meets the Big O (1981)
Falling Up (1996)
Draw a Skinny Elephant (1998)
Runny Babbit (2005)
Don't Bump the Glump! and Other Fantasies (2008)
Every Thing On It (2011) (Published posthumously)
Silverstein grew up on Palmer Street in Chicago and attended Darwin Elementary, Roosevelt High School, University of Illinois and Roosevelt University. He is best known as the author of iconic books of prose including such modern classics as The Giving Tree, A Giraffe and a Half, and The Missing Piece. His immensely popular poetry collections are Where the Sidewalk Ends;A Light in the Attic;Falling Up and Don’t Bump the Glump! and Other Fantasies. He was a lifelong White Sox fan and worked as a hotdog vendor at the original Comiskey Park when he was young. His popularity with both the young and the old, and connection to his birthplace, all came together on July 13, 2009, when Millennium Park celebrated its 5th birthday with a night of song and spoken word in his honor called SHELabration.
Songs of America (1927) (collected by Sandburg; edited by Alfred V. Frankenstein)
Abe Lincoln Grows Up (1928)
Good Morning, America (1928)
Steichen the Photographer (1929)
Early Moon (1930)
Potato Face (1930)
Mary Lincoln: Wife and Widow (1932)
The People, Yes (1936)
Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (1939)
Storm over the Land (1942)
Road to Victory (1942) (exhibition catalog)
Home Front Memo (1943)
Remembrance Rock (1948)
Lincoln Collector: the story of the Oliver R. Barrett Lincoln collection (1949)
The New American Songbag (1950)
Complete Poems (1950)
The Wedding Procession of the Rag Doll and the Broom Handle and Who Was In It (1950)
Always the Young Strangers (1953) (autobiography)
Selected Poems of Carl Sandburg (1954) (edited by Rebecca West)
The Family of Man (1955) (exhibition catalog)
Prairie-Town Boy (1955) (autobiography)
Sandburg Range (1957)
Harvest Poems, 1910–1960 (1960)
Wind Song (1960)
The World of Carl Sandburg (1960) (stage production)
Carl Sandburg at Gettysburg (1961) (documentary)
Honey and Salt (1963)
The Letters of Carl Sandburg (1968) (autobiographical/correspondence) (edited by Herbert Mitgang)
Breathing Tokens (poetry by Sandburg, edited by Margaret Sandburg) (1978)
Ever the Winds of Chance (1983) (autobiography) (started by Sandburg, completed by Margaret Sandburg and George Hendrick)
Carl Sandburg at the Movies: a poet in the silent era, 1920–1927 (1985) (selections of his reviews of silent movies)
Billy Sunday and other poems (1993)
Poems for Children Nowhere Near Old Enough to Vote (1999)
Poems for the People. (1999)
Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years (2007)
A winner of Pulitzer Prizes for both poetry and biography, as well as a Grammy for spoken word performance, Sandburg provided Chicago with its lasting reputation as “Hog Butcher to the World,” as well as “City of Big Shoulders.” Sandburg’s roots were in rural Galesburg, Illinois (where he for a time drove a milk wagon), but his prolific output reflects his deep connection to Chicago, where he worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News. He lived in Elmhurst for 13 years. In addition to his poetry, criticism and biographical work, Sandburg wrote acclaimed film reviews and children’s stories. Sandburg’s vast legacy includes train lines, auditoriums, postal stamps, urban renewal projects, grade schools, middle schools and colleges bearing his name.
For the Love of Mike: More of the Best of Mike Royko (2001)
Early Royko: Up Against It in Chicago (2010)
Royko in Love: Mike's Letters to Carol (2010)
Being the smartest alderman in Chicago's City Council is something like being the tallest midget in the circus.
Winner of the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, Royko's columns were a fixture in Chicago newspapers for more than three decades. He grew up in a Polish neighborhood on the Northwest Side of Chicago, living in an apartment above a bar, and drew on his childhood experiences to become the voice of the Everyman Chicago. "…his writing was distinctive and memorable and in its time the closest thing to lasting literature in a daily paper," Jacob Weisberg wrote for Slate. "Royko could make you laugh and make you think, stir outrage at a heartless bureaucrat, or bring a tear to the eye when he flashed a glimpse of the heart hidden beneath his hard shell." He wrote over 7,500 daily columns for three newspapers, the Chicago Daily News, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Chicago Tribune. Many of his columns are collected in books, but his most famous book remains Boss, a devastating portrait of Richard J. Daley and machine politics that New York columnist Jimmy Breslin called "the best book ever written about a city of this country."
A leading member of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Rodgers, was born in Hyde Park and lived in Chicago most of her life, earning her bachelor’s degree from Roosevelt University and her masters from the University of Chicago, and later teaching at Columbia College, Malcolm X Community College and Harold Washington College. Her real writing education, though, was in the writing workshops of the arts collection the Organization of Black American Culture. Rodgers, a student of Gwendolyn Brooks, read many of her poems at coffeehouses that served as the heart of the Black Arts Movement. She featured the poet as an individual strident and feminist, and a society in conflict. She wrote of relationships between mother-daughter and black men and women, street life, identity, love, and over the course of her career explored shifting values that included a concern with religion. She experimented in form as well as theme. Following the success of Paper Soul, Rodgers received the first Conrad Kent Rivers Memorial Fund Award (1968); after the publication of Songs of a Blackbird, she was given the Poet Laureate Award from the Society of Midland Authors (1970; How I Got Ovah: New and Selected Poems was a finalist for the National Book Award (1976). Rodgers also received a National Endowment of the Arts award. She helped found Third World Press and began Eden Press with a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, and worked as a social worker.
July 14, 1909 – March 4, 1965
Inducted in 2014
Knock on Any Door (1947)
We Fished All Night (1951)
Let No Man Write My Epitaph (1958)
Let Noon Be Fair (1966) published posthumously
When Willard Motley graduated from Engelwood High School, he thought he might move to Paris to become a writer, as his older brother had done. He bicycled to New York City, where his mother then lived, and was promptly told to return to Chicago—all the material he needed could be found there as readily as the European capital. The original author of the Bud Billiken columns in The Defender, Motley’s first two novels, Knock On Anybody’s Door and We Fished All Night, did, indeed, make use of his hometown. Knock On Anybody’s Door sold nearly 50,000 copies in its first three weeks and was turned into a film in which protagonist Nick Roman famously utters the line about living fast, dying young and having a beautiful corpse. Motley was criticized in his life for being a black man writing about white characters, a middle-class man writing about the lower class, and a closeted homosexual writing about heterosexual urges. But those more kindly disposed to his work, and there were plenty, admired his grit and heart, and pointed out that, at least in his first novel, Motley did explore homosexual lifestyles. For Motley, who grew up the son of a Pullman Porter at 350 W. 60th Street, and for years lived in a former sweat shop on Halsted, just north of Maxwell Street, Chicago was more complicated than just its racial or sexual tensions, and as a writer his exploration was expansive, even publishing several children’s stories.
Cantata for the opening of the Chicago Auditorium (1889)
Columbian Ode composed for the opening of the World's Columbian Exposition, with George Whitefield Chadwick (1892)
Valeria and other Poems (1892)
John Wellborn Root: A Study of His Life and Work (1896)
The Passing Show - Five Modern Plays in Verse (1903)
Dance of the Seasons (1911)
You and I — Poems (1914)
The New Poetry: Anthology of 20th Century Verse (1921)
Poets And Their Art (1926)
A Poet's Life—Seventy Years in a Changing World (1938)
Best known as the founder and first editor of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, the Chicago-born Monroe tirelessly dedicated her life to the promotion of the art. As Poetry’s editor, she helped shape the careers of such luminaries as Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot and William Carlos Williams. She was a writer, scholar, critic and patron of the arts. Monroe gave her collection to the University of Chicago, which formally opened the Harriet Monroe Library of Poetry with a dinner that included guest speakers Carl Sandburg, Archibald MacLeish and Ford Maddox Ford—all who lauded her remarkable influence. Monroe’s will also provide $5,000 to establish a prize for distinction in poetry, a considerable gift for that time.
Children of the Market Place: A Fictitious Autobiography (1922). Life of Stephen Douglas.
Levy Mayer and the New Industrial Era (1927) Chicago attorney Levy Mayer (1858-1922).
Lincoln: The Man (1931)
Vachel Lindsay: A Poet in America (1935)
Across Spoon River: An Autobiography (memoir) (1936)
Mark Twain: A Portrait (1938)
The New Star Chamber and Other Essays (1904)
The Blood of the Prophets (play) (1905)
Althea (play) (1907)
The Trifler (play) (1908)
Mitch Miller (novel) (1920)
Skeeters Kirby (novel) (1923)
The Nuptial Flight (novel) (1923)
Kit O'Brien (novel) (1927)
The Fate of the Jury: An Epilogue to Domesday Book (1929)
Gettysburg, Manila, Acoma: Three Plays (1930)
The Tale of Chicago (1933)
The Tide of Time (novel) (1937)
The Sangamon (1988)
Masters grew up in the western Illinois farmlands and made his reputation with his Spoon River Anthology, one of the most widely read books in American literature. The poems in Spoon River are in the form of a series of graveside monologues, during the course of which Masters captures the voice of the Midwestern people, their values and their struggles that he knew so well. Masters set other poetry in the Illinois prairies, and also created a series of courtroom poems that drew upon his law career. In all, he produced 21 books of poetry, 12 plays, six novels, and six biographies, including those of Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman.
The Big Town (1921; basis of 1948 movie So This Is New York)
How to Write Short Stories (1924)
Round Up (1929)
Ring Lardner thought of himself primarily as a sports writer, though many of his generation’s best writers considered him one of the finest short story writers and a great American humorist. Ernest Hemingway, writing for his Oak Park high school newspaper, even used the pen name “Ring Lardner, Jr.” in several Lardner-like articles parodies of Lardner’s style, which that employed the slang of common lowbrow characters.
Born in Niles, Michigan, Lardner went to Chicago’s Armour Institute to study engineering, but failed every class except rhetoric. He scuffled around a bit, received a newspaper apprenticeship at the South Bend Times, then returned to Chicago in 1907. Working on a series of Chicago dailies, Lardner started to earn a reputation as one of the smartest, funniest and most insightful baseball writers of his day. In 1913, after a detour to St. Louis and Boston, Lardner accepted the Chicago Tribune offer to install him as columnist of the popular “In the Wake of the News,” which expanded his repertoire beyond sports. He wrote the column seven days a week until 1919, more than 1,600 columns. During this time, Lardner began selling baseball stories to the Saturday Evening Post, and those stories were eventually collected into his first major work, an epistolary novel called You Know Me, Al, which centered around the travails of minor league pitcher Jack Keefe.
Though Lardner is known for his baseball stories, only about a third of his 130 short stories were written on the subject. He also explored subjects such as marriage and the theater, and wrote a series of plays, the most successful being June Moon, a musical comedy for which he also wrote songs. He also is wrote lyrics and comic sketches appeared in for the Ziegfeld Follies, including one in which Will Rogers played a veteran pitcher. His best known collections include Treat ‘Em Rough,The Big Town,How to Write Short Stories,Haircut and Roundup. His biographer, Donald Elder, called Lardner the “most ferocious satirist since Swift.” In 1990, his name was engraved on the frieze of the Illinois State Library alongside other great Illinois literary figures.
The legion of Lardner supporters, beyond Hemingway, includes his era’s greatest intellectual writers, including Dorothy Parker, H.L. Mencken, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf, and Harold Ross. It’s true that Lardner won high praise, vast readers, and many admirers for his sharp sports writing. His style, approach, the way he interacted with the games and personalities he covered, broke new ground, entertained and informed, and made people laugh. But Lardner’s reach was so much more extensive. His ear for dialect, and skill with vernacular, helped Lardner translate a rough but sensitive American spirit to his readers, and a new technique to aspiring writers. Mencken called his characters “thoroughly American,” and Woolf thought he used games, much like the English used society, to penetrate the interior of his nation’s consciousness.
John H. Johnson
January 19, 1918 – August 8, 2005
Inducted in 2013
John H. Johnson came from humble beginnings to become one of Chicago’s most notable citizens. He was the grandson of slaves. His mother worked two jobs to earn ticket money to move north to Chicago because there was no high school for black students in Arkansas City, AK, the city of his birth. Johnson enrolled at DuSable High School, where he excelled. After graduation in 1936, he attended classes at the University of Chicago and became editor of the company magazine for Supreme Liberty Life Insurance. Johnson built a media empire with the publication of Ebony and Jet, two magazines aimed at African-American readership. He became a millionaire at 31 and is credited with inventing the black consumer market. He became the first black person to own a building on Chicago’s famed Michigan Avenue and was the first African-American to appear on Forbes’ annual rankings of the 400 wealthiest Americans. Honors received by Johnson include Publisher of the Year award from the Magazine Publishers Association (1972), induction into Chicago Business Hall of Fame (1983), Chicagoan of the Year (1984), and the illustrious Spingarn Medal from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Johnson stated his goal was to “show not only the Negroes but also white people that Negroes got married, had beauty contests, gave parties, ran successful businesses, and did all the other normal things of life.” In 1996, Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton. The U.S. Postal Service honored Johnson with a “Forever Stamp,” part of its Black Heritage series.
James Weldon Johnson, The Book of American Negro Poetry (1931)
Arna Bontemps, American Negro Poetry from (1963)
Ruth Miller, Black American Literature: 1760–Present (1971)
Abraham Chapman, Black Voices: An Anthology of African American Literature (1968)
Richard Barks-dale and Kenneth Kinnamon, Black Writers of America: A Comprehensive Anthology (1972)
Robert Hayden, Kaleidoscope (1982)
Arthur P. Davis, J. Saunders Redding and Joyce Ann Joyce, The New Cavalcade (1991)
Library of America, American Poetry of the Twentieth Century Volume I (2000)
Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Nellie McKay’s, Norton Anthology of African American Literature (2004)
Fenton Johnson began writing as a Chicago public school student, as early as the age of nine, and before his career had ended would establish himself as an important and innovative voice in literature, particularly for his poetry. Johnson was born in Chicago, the son of a railroad porter, and was educated in America’s finest educational institutions—University of Chicago and Northwestern University as an undergraduate, and then Columbia University as a graduate student.
Johnson self-published the first of three poetry volumes in 1913, in which he gave early evidence that he would become a powerful voice in exploring the African-American experience. Before that time, Johnson had already written several plays, and would add a collection of short stories and then essays to his oeuvre. He also founded several literary magazines, The Champion in 1916 and The Favorite Magazine in 1918. All of Johnson’s books and magazine publications were self-financed.
Johnson distinguished himself, though, in the teens and early twenties. According to editor Abraham Chapman, who included eight Johnson poems in his Black Voices: An Anthology of African-American Literature, “From beginnings with verse in conventional forms and often trite in content, Fenton Johnson became one of the very first Negro poets to turn to the revolutionary ‘new poetry’ movement in America. In 1918 and 1919 he published poems in Poetry magazine and Alfred Kreymborg’s Others, where he appeared along with William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, and Marianne Moore. He never became a major figure, but he cultivated his own distinctive voice and a fatalistic, nihilistic vision of life which was very rare in American literature.”
Johnson’s magazines sought to bring about racial harmony and reform in society, but his poems were notable for despair about the conditions for Blacks in America.
His most famous poem, “Tired,” begins, “I am tired of work; I am tired of building up somebody else’s civilization.” It also includes the line, “Throw the children in the river; civilization has given us too many. It is better to die than to grow up and find that you are colored.”
The J-Rank Encyclopedia notes that, “Johnson was part of the new imagistic poetry of the early twentieth century, which had Midwestern and specifically Chicago roots.”
Indeed, Johnson used Chicago as the setting for a good portion of his work, such as “Aunt Jane Allen,” which is set on State Street in the Bronzeville neighborhood, and “A Negro Peddler’s Song,” which is patterned after a song sung in a Chicago alley. Even in A Wild Plaint, a recently found unpublished Johnson manuscript in the form of 20-year-old Chicagoan Aubrey Gray’s diary, he details the sites and sounds of his city, and the plight of Black Americans. The diary concludes with Gray’s suicide, specifically a note that says, “due to this color-prejudice… that I do what I am doing.” Though Johnson spent the great majority of his life in Chicago, his work is credited as a forbearer to Harlem Renaissance writers like Langston Hughes.
The Johnsons were one of Chicago’s wealthiest Black families—his father owned their State Street home, a rare accomplishment at the turn of the 20th century. Johnson’s uncle, John “Mushmouth” Johnson, amassed a fortune running a gambling house and controlling Chicago’s policy racket. Arna Bontemps, a friend of Johnson’s until his death, wrote that he was “a dapper boy who drove his own electric automobile around Chicago.” But the Chicago boy who went to Englewood High School and then Wendell Phillips High School, whose family had status and financial security, did not see his life as blessed or lucky. In his essays and poetry, Johnson alludes to a bad ending for his father, and his uncle’s demise was also dramatic. The body of his work suggests that being Black, in that time, in that place, ensured such misfortune.
While many scholars consider Johnson a minor, though notable poet, his widespread and continuing inclusion in important literary anthologies suggest his legacy is lasting. In his lifetime, Johnson saw the likes of James Weldon Johnson, Harriet Monroe and her colleague Alice Corbin, and Countee Cullen choose his poems for inclusion in their anthologies. After Johnson’s death, he would continue to be widely published in anthologies of Black literature and poetry, with luminaries such as Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Bontemps selecting his work.
The language poet, Ron Silliman, in his 1987 collection of critical essays The New Sentence, pointed specifically to Johnson as the first American author to introduce “prose poem with a clear, if simple, sentence:paragraph relation.” Silliman was particularly enthralled by Johnson’s “The Minister,” which he argues, is the “first instance in English of a prose poem which calls attention to a discursive or poetic effect.” By this, Silliman means to say that Johnson’s prose poetry was perhaps one of the very first to expand what poetry might look and sound like—here no longer conforming to meter or rhyme but a new repetitive logic, the sentence itself. As Silliman notes in his essay, Johnson’s poetry effectively points the way to Williams and Gertrude Stein amongst others, who historians and critics alike consider to be some of the most important American authors of any century.
It is really no small thing that Johnson’s name would be mentioned in the same breath as these modernist poets. In the 1920s and 1930s, Johnson was already established as one of the most promising young poets of Black or White America. He had appeared alongside Carl Sandburg in Marianne Moore’s The Little Magazine, a number of times in Poetry magazine, and more often still in Kreymborg’s Others. Indeed, by 1930, Kreymborg, one of the most influential editors of the period, would include Johnson in his seminal anthology Lyric America. On Johnson, Kreymborg shared Silliman’s reverence, calling him “the first radical poet.” Perhaps most importantly, five of Johnson’s poems were included in James Weldon Johnson’s Book of American Negro Poetry. This anthology was the very first dedicated to Black poets and remains one of the most important poetry anthologies in all of American literary history.
The Negro Mother and Other Dramatic Recitations (1931)
Dear Lovely Death (1931)
The Dream Keeper and Other Poems (1932)
Scottsboro Limited: Four Poems and a Play (1932)
Let America Be America Again (1938)
Shakespeare in Harlem (1942)
Freedom's Plow (1943)
Fields of Wonder (1947)
One-Way Ticket (1949)
Montage of a Dream Deferred (1951)
Selected Poems of Langston Hughes (1958)
Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz (1961)
The Panther and the Lash: Poems of Our Times (1967)
The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (1994)
Novels and Short Story Collections
Not Without Laughter (1930)
The Ways of White Folks (1934)
Simple Speaks His Mind (1950)
Laughing to Keep from Crying (1952)
Simple Takes a Wife (1953)
Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955)
Simple Stakes a Claim (1957)
Tambourines to Glory (1958)
The Best of Simple (1961)
Simple's Uncle Sam (1965)
Something in Common and Other Stories (1963)
Short Stories of Langston Hughes (1996)
The Big Sea (1940)
Famous American Negroes (1954)
Famous Negro Music Makers (1955)
I Wonder as I Wander (1956)
A Pictorial History of the Negro in America, with Milton Meltzer (1956)
Famous Negro Heroes of America (1958)
Fight for Freedom: The Story of the NAACP (1962)
Mule Bone, with Zora Neale Hurston (1931)
Mulatto, 1935 (renamed The Barrier, an opera, in 1950)
Troubled Island, with William Grant Still (1936)
Little Ham (1936)
Emperor of Haiti (1936)
Don't You Want to be Free? (1938)
Street Scene, contributed lyrics (1947)
Tambourines to Glory (1956)
Simply Heavenly (1957)
Black Nativity (1961)
Five Plays by Langston Hughes (1963)
Jerico-Jim Crow (1964)
Books for Children
Popo and Fifina, with Arna Bontemps (1932)
The First Book of the Negroes (1952)
The First Book of Jazz (1954)
Marian Anderson: Famous Concert Singer, with Steven C. Tracy (1954)
The First Book of Rhythms (1954)
The First Book of the West Indies (1956)
First Book of Africa (1964)
Black Misery (1969)
The Langston Hughes Reader (1958)
Good Morning Revolution: Uncollected Social Protest Writings by Langston Hughes (1973)
The Collected Works of Langston Hughes (2001)
"My Adventures as a Social Poet" Phylon (1947)
"The Negro Artist and The Racial Mountain" The Nation (1926)
James Mercer Langston Hughes wrote successfully in a variety of genres, most notably in poetry. His column in the Chicago Defender not only brought him much attention, his novels and plays also reached audiences throughout the country, reflecting a true unvarnished look at the plight of African-American people in the United States in the early part of the 20th century.
His poetry crossed barriers and touched readers at a time when the value of the lives of black Americans was in question. A major force in the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes’ words reached deep into the souls of many people influencing them as he had once been influenced by Carl Sandburg.
His seminal work “A Dream Deferred” (1951) includes the line “Does it dry up/like a raisin in the sun?” This line later appeared as the title of one of the most important plays of its time and one of the longest running plays ever, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun.
In 1941, Hughes founded a theater group in Chicago called The Skyloft Players. Using a modest budget, The Skyloft Players mounted plays and offered a variety of classes encouraging and nurturing black theater artists, specifically playwrights. The focus on the work was creating theater from “the black perspective,” according to the group's first director, Helen Spaulding,
Soon after the inauguration of the theater group, Hughes went to work for the Chicago Defender. It was through the Defender Hughes introduced readers to his character Jesse B. Semple – known to the readers as Simple. Hughes combined powerful rhetoric with down-home humor to attack or reflect the conditions of African-Americans at the time. He was eloquent and clear – and no injustice escaped his literary wrath. To some, this column was Hughes’ most powerful and relevant work. He became the voice of a people who were beginning to secure their place in society. Hughes wrote his column for the Defender for 20 years.
Gwendolyn Brooks had already been submitting her work to “Light and Shadows,” the poetry element of the Chicago Defender, when she met Hughes at the age of 16. Hughes was an influence on her illustrious career
In 1949, Hughes spent three months at the integrated Laboratory School of the University of Chicago as a Visiting Lecturer on Poetry. Chicago’s Langston Hughes Elementary School, at 240 W. 104th Street, is named in his honor. The U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp with his likeness in 2002.
As a young man, Hughes was often referred to as the “low-rate poet of Harlem.” As he grew older he became known as "Poet Laureate of the Negro Race," a title he encouraged.
Elvis Is Dead but at Least He Isn't Gaining Any Weight (1995)
Hailed as the unofficial poet laureate of Chicago, David Hernandez immigrated with his family from Cidra, Puerto Rican at the age of nine, and soon after adopted the art form he would pursue his entire life. He said that his decision to become a poet happened at Robert Morris School, Room 208, when his teacher Miss Greenspan explained that artistic license gave poets liberties with grammar.
Hernandez published Despertando/Waking Up, in 1971, at which point he’d already been performing his poetry for nearly a decade—on street corners and playgrounds as he made rounds fulfilling his job as community activist. That same year, Hernandez founded Street Sounds, a collection of musicians and poets taking the stage at festivals and other venues.
Hernandez turned out a series of poetry collections thereafter—Collected Words for a Dusty Shelf (1973), Satin City Lullaby (1987), Rooftop Piper (1991), Elvis Is Dead but at Least He Isn't Gaining Any Weight (1995). He was also a regular presence in anthologies.
But reading Hernandez’s poetry was only half an experience. The charisma, passion and humor he brought to his live performances, both with and without Street Sounds, elevated the quality of his work. He performed at Harold Washington's mayoral inauguration in 1987, at Washington's funeral, and at Chicago's sesquicentennial.
Over the span of nearly five decades, Hernandez taught poetry workshops at the Uptown Community Clinic, in the Chicago Public Schools, and through community arts programs, such as Gallery Humboldt Park.
The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories (1984)
The Dangerous Summer (1985)
The Garden of Eden (1986)
Short Stories (1987)
True at First Light (1999)
Death in the Afternoon (1932)
Green Hills of Africa (1935)
Hemingway, The Wild Years (1962)
A Moveable Feast (1964)
By-Line: Ernest Hemingway (1967)
Ernest Hemingway: Cub Reporter (1970)
The Dangerous Summer (1985)
Dateline: Toronto (1985)
True at First Light (1999)
Under Kilimanjaro (2005)
Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923)
In Our Time (1925)
Men Without Women (1927)
Winner Take Nothing (1933)
The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories (1938)
The Essential Hemingway (1947)
The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories (1961)
The Fifth Column and Four Stories of the Spanish Civil War (1969)
The Nick Adams Stories (1972)
88 Poems (1979)
Complete Poems (1979)
The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (1984)
The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (1987)
The Collected Stories (Everyman's Library) (1995)
Hemingway on Writing (1999)
Hemingway on Fishing (2000)
Hemingway on Hunting (2003)
Hemingway on War (2003)
US/UK Film Adaptations
A Farewell to Arms (1932)
For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943)
To Have and Have Not (1944)
The Killers (1946)
The Macomber Affair (1947)
The Breaking Point (1950)
Under My Skin (1950)
The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952)
A Farewell to Arms (1957)
The Sun Also Rises (1957)
The Old Man and the Sea (1958)
Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man (1962)
The Killers (1964)
Islands in the Stream (1977)
The Garden of Eden (2008)
For Whom the Bell Tolls Playhouse 90 (1959)
The Killers CBS Buick Electra Playhouse (1959)
The Fifth Column CBS (1960)
The Snows of Kilimanjaro CBS (1960)
The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio CBS (1960)
After the Storm (not completed) (1960)
For Whom the Bell Tolls BBC (1965)
My Old Man (1979)
The Sun Also Rises 20th Century Fox (1984)
The Old Man and the Sea (1990)
Other Film Adaptations
The Killers (1956)
The Old Man and the Sea (1999)
Winner of the Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes, Hemingway’s economical style in short stories, novels, memoir and journalism had a tremendous influence on world literature. He is credited with inspiring a range of literary heavyweights, from Beat to Western writers and much in between. Hemingway grew up in Oak Park, and at Oak Park-River Forest High school starred in track, football and water polo, wrote for the school yearbook and literary journal, and was active on the debate team. In his Oak Park Avenue parlor, Hemingways’s musician mother taught her son classical music lessons that he incorporated into the contrapunctal structure of For Whom the Bells Toll. Hemingway’s legacy is so vast that even a minor planet is named after him.
The Florentine Dagger: A Novel for Amateur Detectives (1923)
Kingdom of Evil (1924)
Broken Necks (1926)
Count Bruga (1926)
A Jew in Love (1931)
The Book of Miracles (1939)
A Guide for the Bedevilled (1944)
The Collected Stories of Ben Hecht (1945)
Concerning a Woman of Sin (1964)
Gaily, Gaily, Signet (1963)
A Child of the Century (1954) (May 30, 1985)
The Front Page (1998)
The Champion from Far Away (1931)
Actor's Blood (1936)
A Treasury of Ben Hecht: Collected Stories and Other Writings (1959)
I Hate Actors!
1001 Afternoons in New York
Miracle in the Rain
Letters from Bohemia
Kiss of Death
Casino Royale (uncredited)
7 Faces of Dr. Lao (uncredited)
Billy Rose's Jumbo
Mutiny on the Bounty (uncredited)
Walk on the Wild Side (uncredited)
North to Alaska (uncredited)
John Paul Jones (uncredited)
The Gun Runners (uncredited)
Queen of Outer Space
Legend of the Lost
The Sun Also Rises
A Farewell to Arms
Miracle in the Rain
The Iron Petticoat
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (uncredited)
The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (uncredited)
The Indian Fighter
The Man with the Golden Arm (uncredited)
Guys and Dolls (uncredited)
Living It Up (based on his play Hazel Flagg)
Light's Diamond Jubilee (television)
Terminal Station (uncredited)
Angel Face (uncredited)
Hans Christian Andersen (uncredited)
Actors and Sin (also directed and produced)
The Wild Heart (uncredited)
The Thing from Another World (uncredited)
The Secret of Convict Lake (uncredited)
Strangers on a Train (uncredited)
September Affair (uncredited)
Where the Sidewalk Ends
Edge of Doom (uncredited)
Love Happy (uncredited)
The Inspector General (uncredited)
Roseanna McCoy (uncredited)
Big Jack (uncredited)
Portrait of Jennie (uncredited)
Cry of the City (uncredited)
The Miracle of the Bells
Dishonored Lady (uncredited)
Her Husband's Affairs
The Paradine Case (uncredited)
Ride the Pink Horse
Kiss of Death
Duel in the Sun (uncredited)
A Flag is Born
Specter of the Rose (also directed and produced)
Watchtower Over Tomorrow
The Outlaw (uncredited)
Journey Into Fear (uncredited)
The Black Swan
Ten Gentlemen from West Point (uncredited)
Roxie Hart (uncredited)
The Mad Doctor (uncredited)
Second Chorus (uncredited)
Angels Over Broadway (also directed and produced)
Foreign Correspondent (final scene-uncredited)
The Shop Around the Corner (uncredited)
His Girl Friday
I Take This Woman (uncredited)
Gone with the Wind (uncredited)
At the Circus (uncredited)
Lady of the Tropics
It's a Wonderful World
Let Freedom Ring
Angels with Dirty Faces (uncredited)
The Goldwyn Follies
The Hurricane (uncredited)
The Prisoner of Zenda (uncredited)
Woman Chases Man (uncredited)
King of Gamblers (uncredited)
A Star Is Born (uncredited)
Soak the Rich (also directed)
The Scoundrel (also directed)
Once in a Blue Moon (also directed)
The Florentine Dagger
The President Vanishes (uncredited)
Crime Without Passion (also directed)
Shoot the Works
Twentieth Century (uncredited)
Queen Christina (uncredited)
Design for Living
Turn Back the Clock
Hallelujah, I'm a Bum
Back Street (uncredited)
Rasputin and the Empress (uncredited)
Million Dollar Legs (uncredited)
The Beast of the City (uncredited)
The Unholy Garden (1931 film)
The Sin of Madelon Claudet (uncredited)
Monkey Business (uncredited)
Homicide Squad (uncredited)
Quick Millions (uncredited)
Le Spectre vert
Street of Chance (uncredited)
The Unholy Night
The Great Gabbo
The Big Noise
The American Beauty (uncredited)
The New Klondike (uncredited)
Hecht’s career began at 16, when he relocated to Chicago to begin a journalism career that included work at the Chicago Journal and Chicago Daily News, for whom he covered Berlin after World War I. While Hecht was most prolific as the scriptwriter of some 70 films (among them The Front Page, Scarface, Gunga Din and Notorious), he also turned out many quality stories, novels, plays and non-fiction works. His first novel, Erik Dorn, received great reviews, and his collection of newspaper columns, One Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago is still beloved. Two of Hecht’s scripts won Academy Awards for best screenplay.
Alice Judson Hayes was born into a prominent Chicago arts family, and in 1976 carried on its distinguished record of patronage in founding the Ragdale artists colony. She was raised in Lincoln Park by her lawyer father and sculptor mother, and attended the Francis Parker School. As a student at the University of Chicago, Hayes met her first husband, Ned Ryerson, son of the steel magnate Edward L. Ryerson, and subsequently moved to begin a new life on the East Coast. It was after her divorce from Ryerson that Hayes returned to the Chicago area and created the Ragdale Foundation, set up as a working retreat for writers, musicians and visual artists. Built on her family’s Green Bay Road estate in Lake Forest, the retreat was designed by her grandfather, Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw. A large number of artists have passed through Ragdale (up to 200 per year), including prominent (or soon to be) writers Audrey Niffenegger, Lisel Mueller, Dennis Lehane, Alice Sebold, Mark Strand, Luis Alberto Urrea, Jane Hamilton, Jacquelyn Mitchard and Alex Kotlowitz, who worked for four weeks on his 1991 classic There Are No Children Here. As its director, Hayes labored on every aspect of the burgeoning community, from high-level decision making to mowing the lawn. In 1981, Hayes remarried and moved to Hyde Park, becoming active in peace and anti-war activities, and a vital part of community organizations, as she continued to be in Lake Forest. Among her civic achievements, Hayes helped found the Chicago chapter of Educators for Social Responsibility. Ten years after their marriage, Hayes and her husband moved into Montgomery Place, also in Hyde Park, where she taught poetry, edited a monthly newsletter, and helped author a history of the establishment called In It Together. Hayes’ published work includes the poetry collections Journal of the Lake and Water, Sheba's Story, as well as a number of short stories. In 2002, Hayes received the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award, which the Illinois Humanities Council awards for exceptional contributions to the community. The Alice Judson Hayes Writing Fellowship is given out annually in her honor.
Relocations of the Spirit: Collected Essays (1994)
Divine Days (1992)
Meteor in the Madhouse (2001)
Forrest grew up on the South Side and went to school at Wendell Phillips, Hyde Park Academy and Wilson Junior College. He wrote and edited for several South Side community newspapers. A professor of English and African-American studies at Northwestern University for 24 years, Forrest’s stream-of-consciousness writing concerned the legacy of slavery and earned him a place on Chicago Magazine’s “Most Important Chicagoans of the 20th Century.” His novels, set in a mythical Forrest County that closely resembles Chicago, comprise an oral history of a fictional place and time. His third novel, Two Wings to Veil My Face, won the DuSable Museum Certificate of Merit and Achievement in Fiction, the Carl Sandburg Award, the Friends of Literature Prize and the Society of Midland Authors Award for fiction. His fourth book, Divine Days, won the Chicago Sun-Times Book of the Year Award for local fiction.
Telling the Bees, The International Folk-Lore Congress of the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, July, 1893
With Trumpet and Drum
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod, Dutch Lullaby
The Dream Ship
For fifty dollars a week, the Chicago Morning News lured popular newspaper columnist Eugene Field to relocate from Denver. In 1883, Field was already widely known, and his new column, Sharps and Flats, would continue his reputation for humorous essays. Living near the intersection of North Clarendon and West Hutchinson in the Buena Park neighborhood, Field chided current events and people, often in the arts and literature, and made a habit of criticizing his new city’s materialism. He called Chicago, “Porkopolis.” Soon, Field’s production of children’s verse increased, and his audience broadened. Field’s first poetry publication was in 1879, and more than a dozen volumes followed. Though Field’s intended audience appeared to be largely adults, his nostalgic recollections of growing up earned him the nickname “Poet of Childhood.” He also wrote a substantial number of short stories. Field died of a heart attack in Chicago at the age of 45, and is buried at Kenilworth’s Church of the Holy Comforter. The Eugene Field Memorial in the Lincoln Park Zoo features “Dream Lady,” an Edwin Francis McCartan sculpture based on the poem, “The Rock-a-By Lady from Hush-a-By Street.” The granite base depicts scenes from other Field poems, including “The Fly Away Horse” and “Seein Things.” His famous “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod,” as well as parts of “The Sugar Plum Tree” are carved into the sides. Other local memorials include an Albany Park field house named after the writer; Chicago, Elmhurst, Park Ridge, Wheeling, Rock Island and Normal elementary schools bearing his name; and Field Park in Oak Park.
Our Mrs. McChesney (1915) (play, with George V. Hobart)
Fanny Herself (1917)
Cheerful–By Request (1918)
Half Portions (1919)
$1200 a Year: A Comedy in Three Acts (1920) (play, with Newman Levy)
The Girls (Edna Ferber novel) (1921)
So Big (1924)
Minick: A Play (1924) (play, with G. S. Kaufman)
Show Boat (1926)
Stage Door (1926) (play, with G.S. Kaufman)
Mother Knows Best (1927)
Old Charleston (1927)
The Royal Family (1927) (play, with G. S. Kaufman)
American Beauty (1931)
Dinner at Eight (1932) (play, with G. S. Kaufman)
They Brought Their Women (1933)
Come and Get It (1935)
Trees Die at the Top (1937)
Nobody's in Town (1938)
A Peculiar Treasure (1939)
The Land Is Bright (1941) (play, with G. S. Kaufman)
Saratoga Trunk (1941)
No Room at the Inn (1941)
Great Son (1945)
Saratoga Trunk (1945) (film, with Casey Robinson)
One Basket (1947)
Bravo (1949) (play, with G. S. Kaufman)
Ice Palace (1958)
A Kind of Magic (1963)
Musicals adapted from Ferber novels
Show Boat (1927)
A Chicago resident during her early years, Ferber would use her novels and plays to champion the cause of equality, not just for women but all people. She won a Pulitzer Prize in 1925 for So Big, the story of a woman raising a child on a truck farm outside Chicago. She is better known for her works, such as Giant and Show Boat, that were turned into blockbuster Hollywood films. Her 1932 play, Dinner at Eight, which she co-authored with George Kaufman, continues to be staged today.
Can All This Grandeur Perish? and Other Stories (1937)
No Star Is Lost (1938)
Tommy Gallagher's Crusade (1939)
Father and Son (1940)
The Bill of Rights in danger!: the meaning of the Minneapolis convictions (1941)
Ellen Rogers (1941)
"$1000 a Week and Other Stories" (1942)
My Days of Anger (1943)
"To Whom It May Concern and Other Stories" (1944)
Who are the 18 prisoners in the Minneapolis Labor Case?: how the Smith "Gag" Act has endangered workers rights and free speech (1944)
"The League of Frightened Philistines and Other Papers" (1945)
Bernard Clare (1946)
"When Boyhood Dreams Come True and Other Stories" (1946)
"The Life Adventurous and Other Stories" (1947)
Literature and Morality (1947)
Truth and myth about America (1949)
The Road Between (1949)
An American Dream Girl (1950)
The Name Is Fogarty: Private Papers on Public Matters (1950)
This Man and This Woman (1951)
Yet Other Waters (1952)
The Face of Time (1953)
Reflections at Fifty and Other Essays (1954)
French Girls Are Vicious and Other Stories (1955)
A Dangerous Woman and Other Stories (1957)
My Baseball Diary (1957)
It Has Come To Pass (1958)
Boarding House Blues (1961)
Side Street and Other Stories (1961)
"Sound of a City" (1962)
The Silence of History (1963)
What Time Collects (1964)
A Glass of Milk, in "Why Work Series" editor Gordon Lish (1966)
Lonely for the Future (1966)
When Time Was Born (1966)
New Year's Eve/1929 (1967)
A Brand New Life (1968)
Childhood Is Not Forever (1969)
Invisible Swords (1971)
Judith and Other Stories (1973)
The Dunne Family (1976)
Olive and Mary Anne (1977)
The Death of Nora Ryan (1978)
A huge White Sox fan, graduate of Mt. Carmel High School and the University of Chicago, Farrell used his Chicago roots, especially his South Side childhood memories, to create some 50 books. His Studs Lonigan trilogy made a lasting impact on the literary world, obtaining a broad readership and praise not only among critics but also historians and sociologists. His realistic renderings of social conditions and their impact on characters reflected his own political leanings. Farrell was awarded the Emerson-Thoreau Award from the Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Lonigan triology was selected a top 100 novel of the 20th century by the Modern Library.
Each year from 1999 to 2013, except in 2008, Ebert published Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook
An Illini Century: One Hundred Years of Campus Life (1967)
A Kiss Is Still a Kiss (1984)
The Perfect London Walk (1986)
Two Weeks In Midday Sun: A Cannes Notebook (1987)
Behind the Phantom's Mask (1993) Fiction
Ebert's Little Movie Glossary (1994)
Roger Ebert's Book of Film (1996)
Questions for the Movie Answer Man (1997)
Ebert's Bigger Little Movie Glossary (1999)
I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie (2000)
The Great Movies (2002)
The Great Movies II (2005)
Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert (2006)
The Great Movies III (2010)
Your Movie Sucks (2007)
Roger Ebert's Four-Star Reviews 1967–2007 (2007)
Scorsese by Ebert (2008)
The Pot and How to Use It: The Mystery and Romance of the Rice Cooker(2010)
Life Itself: A Memoir. (2011)
A Horrible Experience of Unbearable Length (2012)
When I am writing, my problems become invisible, and I am the same person I always was. All is well. I am as I should be. [Esquire]
Working for the Chicago Sun Times from 1967 until his death, Roger Ebert was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Ebert and Chicago Tribune critic Gene Siskel helped popularize nationally televised film reviewing when they co-hosted the PBS show Sneak Previews, followed by several variously named At the Movies programs.
But above all else, Ebert was a writer. He wrote more books than any TV personality since Steve Allen — 17 in all. Not only collections of reviews, both good and bad, and critiques of great movies, but humorous glossaries and even a novel, Behind the Phantom’s Mask, that was serialized in the Sun-Times. In 2011, his autobiography, Life Itself, won rave reviews. “This is the best thing Mr. Ebert has ever written,” Janet Maslin wrote in the New York Times.
In 2005, Ebert became the first film critic to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Tom Van Riper of Forbes described him as "the most powerful pundit in America,” and Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called him "the best known film critic in America." Ebert was also named honorary life member of the Directors' Guild of America; won the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Screenwriters' Guild; and received honorary degrees from the American Film Institute and the University of Colorado at Boulder. The 19th annual installment of Roger Ebert’s Film Festival took place in Urbana-Champaign this past April, and according to the official website “his influence on the Festival continues.” Ebert’s blog, rogerebert.com, has been carried on by his widow Chaz, who is a regular contributor as well as the publisher.
Ebert lived with cancer of the thyroid and salivary glands from 2002. He continued to publish frequently both online and in print until shortly before his death. Two days before his death, Ebert ended his final blog post by saying, "So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies.” His death prompted wide reaction from celebrities both in and out of the entertainment industry. President Barack Obama wrote, "Roger was the movies ... [he could capture] the unique power of the movies to take us somewhere magical ... The movies won't be the same without Roger." Robert Redford called Ebert "one of the great champions of freedom of artistic expression" and said, "His personal passion for cinema was boundless, and that is sure to be his legacy for generations to come."
Hey Rub-a-Dub-Dub: A Book of the Mystery and Wonder and Terror of Life (1920)
A Book About Myself (1922); republished (unexpurgated) as Newspaper Days (1931)
The Color of a Great City (1923)
MOODS Cadenced and Declaimed (1926)
Dreiser Looks at Russia (1928)
My City (1929)
A Gallery of Women (1929)
Tragic America (1931)
America Is Worth Saving (1941)
Theodore Dreiser: Political Writings, edited by Jude Davies (2011)
Dreiser, who began writing for the Chicago Globe after flunking out of Indiana University, is known as a trailblazer for his generation. In his fiction and non-fiction, he tackled subjects that were considered in violation of conventional morality, including Sister Carrie (about a woman who flees the country for Chicago and eventually dabbles in illicit activities such as the theatre and rich men) and his Trilogy of Desire (based on Chicago streetcar tycoon Charles Tyson Yerkes). Dreiser’s themes of social inequality and his battles with censorship earned him a reputation as a champion for literary freedom, while his style won him credit as a founder of the naturalism literary movement.
Love in the Machine Age: A Psychological Study of the Transition from Patriarchal Society (1930)
Government Aid During the Depression to Professional, Technical and Other Service Workers (1947)
Final Report on the WPA Program, 1935-43 (Washington: Government Printing Office) (1947)
Homecoming; An Autobiography (1969)
Upton Sinclair : A Study in Social Protest (1970)
Essays from The Friday Literary Review, 1909-13 (1995)
Feminism for Men (1914)
Mona Lisa and the Wheelbarrow (1914)
The Censor's Triumph (1915)
Enter the Woman (1915)
Human Nature: A Very Short Morality Play (1913)
Chaste Adventures Of Joseph: A Comedy (1914)
Ibsen Revisited: A Piece Of Foolishness (1914)
Enigma: A Domestic Conversation (1915)
Rim Of The World: A Fantasy (1915)
Legend: A Romance (1915)
King Arthur's Socks: A Comedy (1916)
Long Time Ago: A Tragic Fantasy (1917)
Angel Intrudes: A Comedy (1917)
Sweet-And-Twenty: A Comedy (1918)
Poor Harold: A Comedy (1920)
Little Accident (1928)
King Arthur's Socks and Other Village Plays (2012)
Floyd Dell was born in Barry, IL and after attending high school in Iowa moved to Chicago in 1908, where he remained until moving to New York City in 1913. Having been brought up in poverty, he took an early interest in politics and social change and by the age of 16 had joined the Socialist Party. This would pave the way for a string of jobs writing and promoting for Socialist publications such as The Tri-City Worker and The Masses. While a supporter of Socialism, he did not limit himself or his career to mere political constraints. He eventually took a job with The Chicago Evening Post and by 1911 was the editor of its Friday Literary Review, a nationally distributed weekly supplement that helped enhanced the reputation of Chicago’s literary renaissance. During this period he would become an unequivocally prominent figure in the literary movement that would in later years be deemed American Modernism. He advocated the work of such modernist icons as Jack London, Upton Sinclair and George Bernard Shaw, all the while slowly honing his own literary gifts. He is perhaps best remembered for his first novel, the 1920 bestselling Moon-Calf, and later with the 1928 Broadway hit play Little Accident. Along with his novels (11 of them) and plays (12), he was also an influential critic, essayist and poet of reasonable distinction. He also wrote an autobiography, Homecoming, in 1930. He is remembered today as a heavily influential figure in early American Modernism, Socialism, and as an usher for the exodus of new literary voices in the Midwest to settle in the great cities of the east like New York. According to author R. Craig Sautter, who helped compile a 1996 collection of his essays from the Friday Literary Review, Dell was “one of the most flamboyant, versatile and influential American Men of Letters of the first third of the 20th Century.”
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.
Whip me whop me pudding, and other stories of Riley Rabbit and his fabulous friends (1966)
What shall I tell my children who are Black? (1968)
Did you feed my cow? Street games, chants, and rhymes (1969)
For Malcolm; poems on the life and the death of Malcolm X Dudley Randall and Margaret G. Burroughs, editors (1969)
Africa, my Africa (1970)
What shall I tell my children?: An addenda (1975)
Interlude: seven musical poems by Frank Marshall Davis, Margaret T. Burroughs, editor. (1985)
Minds flowing free: original poetry by "The Ladies" women's division of Cook County Department of Corrections, Margaret Taylor-Burroughs, editor (1986)
The Family Linocut (1986)
A very special tribute in honor of a very special person, Eugene Pieter Romayn Feldman, Margaret T. Burroughs, editor (1988)
His name was Du Sable and he was the first (1990)
Africa name book (1994)
A shared heritage: art by four African Americans by William E. Taylor and Harriet G. Warkel with essays by Margaret T. G. Burroughs and others (1996)
The Beginner's Guide to Collecting Fine Art, African American Style Ana M. Allen and Margaret Taylor Burroughs (1998)
The tallest tree in the forest (1998)
Humanist and glad to be (2003)
My first husband & his four wives (me, being the first) (2003)
Margaret Taylor-Burroughs moved to Chicago at the age of five and remained close to the city the rest of her life. She established a host of enduring cultural organizations, distinguished herself as an educator, served as a longtime commissioner at the Chicago Park District, and produced world-class bodies of literary and fine arts works.
Burroughs attended public schools, culminating with her graduation from Englewood High School in 1933, before pursuing higher academic goals at Chicago Normal College, Chicago Teachers College and the Art Institute of Chicago, where she earned her B.E. and M.A.
By the time she turned twenty-three in 1940, she had co-founded the South Side Community Arts Center (SSCAC), located across the street from the coach house she shared with her first husband, Bernard Goss, on 3831 S. Michigan Ave. She would serve on the board for 70 years. Burroughs also created a famous salon in Bronzeville, in which prominent cultural figures like W.E.B. DuBois and James Baldwin were among those in attendance. She launched an art fair at a shopping center around 35th Street and King Drive to provide a showcase for the work of black artists. She also helped start the National Conference of African-American Artists.
Burroughs crowning achievement, though, was the DuSable Museum, which she co-founded in 1961, along with husband Charles Burroughs, on the ground floor of her Chicago home; it remained there until it outgrew the space and was relocated to the current Washington Park site.
The museum is only not even two miles away from DuSable High School, where Burroughs taught from 1946-1969. She was also a professor of humanities at Kennedy-King College from 1968-79, and taught art and poetry to prison inmates.
Burroughs became heavily influenced by Mexican Muralists, whose style would later characterize her own famous white-on-black prints of African American history. Much like her art, her equally illustrious writing career was largely defined by its passionate interpretation of the African-American experience. Such poems as What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black!, and books like Jasper, Drummin’ Boy and Did You Feed My Cow? have all been critically acclaimed and translated into multiple languages.
Burroughs’ many honors include the President’s Humanitarian Award (given to her by Gerald Ford), the Paul Robeson Award, the Art Institute’s Legacy Awards, Anyone Can Fly Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, and she was named to the Chicago Defender’s list of most influential women.
Fanny Butcher was a writer and critic for the Chicago Tribune for 40 years. She moved to Chicago as a child and graduated from the University of Chicago. Throughout her career at the Tribune, she worked as a society editor, club editor, crime reporter, and fashion editor. She was also a praised book reviewer, and published her memoir Many Lives, One Love in 1971. A favorite writer and friend of hers was Ernest Hemingway, who was honored by the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame in 2012.
Report from Part One: An Autobiography (1972) (Prose)
A Capsule Course in Black Poetry Writing (1975) (Prose)
Other Music (1976)
Black Love (1981)
To Disembark (1981)
Primer for Blacks (1981) (Prose)
Young Poet's Primer (1981) (Prose)
Very Young Poets (1983) (Prose)
The Near-Johannesburg Boy and Other Poems (1986)
Children Coming Home (1991)
Report From Part Two (1996)
In Montgomery (2000)
Brooks was raised and educated on the South Side, taught at several local colleges, and set much of her poetry in the city. With the publication of A Street in Bronzeville in 1945, Brooks won a Guggenheim Fellowship, became one of Mademoiselle’s “Ten Young Women of the Year,” and generally triggered an avalanche of praise that would continue unabated until her death. With Annie Allen, in 1950, Brooks became the first African-American to capture a Pulitzer Prize; she was poet laureate of Illinois and the United States; she was named National Endowment for the Arts’ Jefferson Lecturer; is a member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame; and has four Illinois schools and a library named in her honor. In conjunction with her 80th birthday in 1997, Mayor Richard Mr. Daley declared Gwendolyn Brooks Week, at which 80 performers and writers from around the world presented her gifts.
Mother Goose in Prose, illustrated by Maxfield Parrish (1891)
Father Goose, His Book (1899)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (1902)
The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904)
Queen Zixi of Ix (1904)
Queer Visitors from the Marvelous Land of Oz (1905, comic strip depicting 27 stories)
The Woggle-Bug Book (1905)
Ozma of Oz (1907)
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908)
The Road to Oz (1909)
The Emerald City of Oz (1910)
The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913)
Little Wizard Stories of Oz (1913, collection of 6 short stories)
Tik-Tok of Oz (1914)
The Scarecrow of Oz (1915)
Rinkitink in Oz (1916)
The Lost Princess of Oz (1917)
The Tin Woodman of Oz (1918)
The Magic of Oz (1919, posthumously published)
Glinda of Oz (1920, posthumously published)
When Baum moved his family to Chicago in 1891, he was a washout as an oil tycoon, shop owner and newspaper publisher. He had dabbled, with limited success, as an actor, newspaper reporter, playwright, salesman and chicken breeder. In Chicago, living with his family on Humboldt Blvd., Baum took work as a reporter, department store window dresser and traveling chinaware salesman. Now in his forties, Baum finally found his calling: in 1897, a Chicago publisher put out his Tales from Mother Goose, and two years later Father Goose: His Book sold 60,000 copies. Then, in 1900, came The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It is probably no coincidence that notes of The White City could be heard throughout The Emerald City, as Baum experienced the radiance of that fantastical creation at the World’s Columbia Exposition shortly after his resettlement in Chicago. Readers loved Dorothy and her strange traveling companions, and Baum followed up his big success with The Marvelous Land of Oz. He would go on to write 14 Oz books in all, and even today, more than a century later, Baum’s characters are among the best loved in all children’s literature. The books were translated (some by Baum) into successful theatrical productions in Chicago, New York and eventually throughout the world. Though Baum’s own film adaptations failed (he bought his own film company, which he sold to Universal), the MGM production in 1939, starring Judy Garland, was a huge commercial and artistic success. The film is cited on several prominent lists as one of the greatest in film history. A statue of the Tin Man pays homage to Baum in Chicago’s Oz Park, and festivals throughout the country, notably in Chittenango Falls, New York and Sedan, Kansas, annually celebrate the author and his books.
Margaret Ayer Barnes
April 8, 1886 – October 25, 1967
Inducted Oct. 5, 2017 at Volumes Bookcafe
The Age of Innocence, a dramatization of Edith Wharton's novel of the same name (produced 1928), made into a 1934 motion picture of the same name.
Jenny, a play, with Edward Sheldon (1929)
Dishonored Lady, a play, also with Sheldon (1930), made into a 1947 motion picture of the same name (aka Sins of Madeleine)
Prevailing Winds, short stories (1928)
Years of Grace, a novel (1930)
Westward Passage, a novel (1931), made into a 1932 motion picture of the same name.
Within This Present, a novel (1933)
Edna, His Wife, a novel (1935), later adapted into a play of the same name by Cornelia Otis Skinner.
Wisdom's Gate, a novel (1938)
Chicago born and bred, Margaret Ayers Barnes was a novelist, short story writer and playwright. She began her writing career in earnest after a debilitating car accident at age forty in 1926. Two of her plays, Age of Innocence (adapted from the Edith Wharton novel), and Jenny each played for more than a hundred performances on Broadway. Her first novel, Years of Grace won the Pulitzer Prize in 1931 and was also the best selling book in its year of publication. The novel, set in late nineteenth century Chicago, spans four decades in the life of Jane Ward Carver, daughter of a wealthy family, from child all the way to grandmother, and shows the changing world through her eyes. Barnes followed that up with two more best sellers, Within This Present and Westward Passage, which was adapted to the screen for Ann Harding. Barnes was also an amateur actress, playing roles in productions of the Aldis Players in Lake Forest and the North Shore Theatre in Winnetka. That experience helped her launch a career on the speaking circuit.
The Amateur Virgin, Buddha and the Señorita, Tiara Tango, Emily Dickinson in Bandages, A Family in Figleaves, Prayers for a Go-Go Boy, Honeymoon Rehearsals, House with Black Windows (with the poet Glenn Sheldon), Red House On Fire, and Horatio: An Inquisition
Dancing at Funerals: Selected Plays (2010)
Buddha and the Señorita, Sex with the Man-in-the-Moon, Spanish Moon, Bed But No Breakfast, Fade to White (with the poets Glenn Sheldon and Diane Williams), Honeymoon Rehearsals, and A Lesson in Writing Love Letters
Rane Arroyo was born in Chicago to Puerto Rican parents, and began as a performance artist in Chicago galleries before beginning to write poetry, which eventually yielded Columbus’s Orphans,Pale Ramon, and Home Movies of the Narcissus, among other titles. He wrote 10 poetry books, more than a dozen plays and a short story collection.
A beloved teacher, writer, and scholar, Arroyo overturned assumptions and stereotypes about homosexuality and Latinos, helping define both literary canons. Among his many awards, Arroyo’s work received the John Ciardi Poetry Prize, the Carl Sandburg Poetry Prize, an Ohio Arts Council Award for Excellence in Poetry, a Pushcart Prize and the Hart Crane Poetry Prize.
Though for more than a decade Arroyo lived in Ohio, where he was a professor of creative writing at the University of Toledo, he considered Chicago his home more than any other. In an interview with Cervena Barva Press, Arroyo said that he “actually lived in three Chicagos.” The first was an entirely Spanish-speaking Chicago neighborhood, the second the western suburb to where his family relocated, and the third the Chicago that welcomed him as “prodigal son returned.” As a young artist exploring Chicago’s 80s art scene, Arroyo read in “parking lots and discos.” He earned his bachelor’s degree from Elmhurst College.
Seven Kitchens Press recently announced the formation of the Rane Arroyo Chapbook Prize.
Tar: A Midwest Childhood (1926, semi-autobiographical novel)
Alice and The Lost Novel (1929)
Beyond Desire (1932)
Kit Brandon: A Portrait (1936)
Short Story collections
Winesburg, Ohio (1919)
The Triumph of the Egg: A Book of Impressions From American Life in Tales and Poems (1921)
Horses and Men (1923)
Death in the Woods and Other Stories (1933)
Mid-American Chants (1918)
A New Testament (1927)
Plays, Winesburg and Others (1937)
A Story Teller's Story (1924, memoir)
The Modern Writer (1925, essays)
Sherwood Anderson's Notebook (1926, memoir)
Hello Towns! (1929, collected newspaper articles)
Nearer the Grass Roots (1929, essays)
The American County Fair (1930, essays)
Perhaps Women (1931, essays)
No Swank (1934, essays)
Puzzled America (1935, essays)
A Writer's Conception of Realism (1939, essays)
Home Town (1940, photographs and commentary)
Anderson wrote volumes of poetry, essays, memoirs and short stories, but will always be remembered as the author of the seminal collection Winesburg, Ohio. The small town of Winesburg is the setting for a series of interrelated stories told to protagonist George Willard, who, like a lot of his friends and neighbors and acquaintances, feels a suppressed desire for a better life. Though the book was published as a short story collection, many consider it one of the greatest American novels, and literary heavyweights such as Phillip Roth and Henry Miller have given nods to its influence in their own work. Anderson’s first novel, Windy McPherson’s Son, is the story of an Iowa newsboy who makes his fortune in Chicago, and in it Anderson clearly drew from his own Chicago experiences, as he did in his second novel, Marching Men. Anderson’s Chicago rooming house occupants were the models for the characters in Winesburg. Chicago was a magnet that kept pulling Anderson back—he did factory work in the city as a young adult; returned as a successful copywriter several years later; and came back after a nervous breakdown to begin work as a serious writer.
The Fiery Fountains: The Autobiography: Continuation and Crisis to 1950 (1951)
The Little Review Anthology, Hermitage House (1953)
Margaret C. Anderson Correspondence with Ben and Rose Caylor Hecht (1959)
The Strange Necessity: The Autobiography (1962)
The Unknowable Gurdjieff, memoir, dedicated to Jane Heap (1962)
Forbidden Fires, part memoir, part novel, Ed. by Mathilda M. Hills (1996)
Anderson's The Little Review was the original publisher of James Joyce's Ulysses, in the face of extraordinary censorship attempts. See the story in The Newberry website.
With a finishing school education and a resentment against her bourgeois upbringing, Margaret Anderson migrated from Indianapolis to Chicago in the fall of 1908 to take work as a reviewer for the religious weekly The Continent. She arrived in the city at the start of the Chicago Literary Renaissance, and in March 1914 founded the literary magazine The Little Review, which became a force in the American and European literary landscapes. Anderson made it clear from the beginning that her magazine “would make no compromises with public taste,” and its debut issue set the tone: articles on psychoanalysis, feminism and Nietzche, among others. Funding was difficult, especially since Anderson held high editorial standards (she rejected F. Scott Fizgerald because he was too popular), and for a half-year in 1914 she and her staff, unable to pay rent on her residence or office space, camped on the shores of Lake Michigan. Anderson, whose stated objective was to produce fresh and intelligent music art, drama and life from the artist’s point of view, personally marketed the magazine throughout the United States, her strategy to draw a big readership while spurning the highbrow literary establishment. Though the Little Review never paid contributors, it offered a home to stories, poetry and art considered too unconventional to place nearly anywhere else, much less mainstream publications; these orphans included important works by the likes of Wyndham Lewis, James Joyce and Ezra Pound, notably Ulysses, which in 1918 was featured in serialized form and subsequently brought the wrath of the U.S. Postal and legal systems down upon Anderson. Other notable contributors to the magazine included T.S. Eliot, Ben Hecht, Amy Lowell, Vachel Lindsay, Sherwood Anderson, Carl Sandburg and Ford Madux Ford. Over the years, Little Review supported anarchism and alternative lifestyles (Anderson was a lesbian), among other unpopular points of view. The magazine’s life spanned from 1914 until 1929, a month before the American stock market crash, and almost perfectly spanned the years of the “Lost Generation” while playing a major part in shaping American modernism.
March 28, 1909 – May 9, 1981
Inducted in 2010
Somebody in Boots (1935)
Never Come Morning (1942)
The Neon Wilderness (1947)
The Man with the Golden Arm (1949)
Chicago: City on the Make (1951)
A Walk on the Wild Side (1956)
Nelson Algren's Own Book of Lonesome Monsters (1962)
Who Lost an American? (1963)
Conversations with Nelson Algren (1964)
Notes from a Sea Diary: Hemingway All the Way (1965)
The Last Carousel (1973)
The Devil's Stocking (1983)
America Eats (1992)
He Swung and He Missed (1993)
The Texas Stories of Nelson Algren (1994)
Notes From a Sea Diary & Who Lost an American (2009)
Algren won the first National Book Award in 1950 for The Man with the Golden Arm, a novel set on Chicago’s Northwest Side and, like much of his work, concerned with the city’s quasi-criminal underbelly. Algren lived much of his life in and around Chicago’s Polish Triangle and was remembered there with a fountain dedicated in his name and inscribed with a quote from one of his essays in Chicago: City on the Make. Though Algren’s reputation is built around a small output of novels, stories and essays, and though he was often ignored in mainstream literary circles, he was elected to the American Academy-Institute of Arts and Letters. There is an annual short story contest named in Algren’s memory, and the Nelson Algren committee sponsors an annual birthday party for him.
A Belated Industry The American Journal of Sociology (1896)
The subjective value of a social settlement (1892)
Hull-House Maps and Papers: A Presentation of Nationalities and Wages in a Congested District of Chicago, Together with Comments and Essays on Problems Growing Out of the Social Conditions (1896)
"Ethical Survivals in Municipal Corruption," International Journal of Ethics (1898)
"Trades Unions and Public Duty," The American Journal of Sociology (1899)
"The Subtle Problems of Charity," The Atlantic Monthly (1899)
Democracy and Social Ethics (1902)
Child labor (1905)
"Problems of Municipal Administration," The American Journal of Sociology (1905)
"Child Labor Legislation: A Requisite for Industrial Efficiency," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (1905)
The operation of the Illinois child labor law, (1906)
Newer Ideals of Peace (1906)
National protection for children (1907)
The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets (1909)
Twenty Years at Hull-House: With Autobiographical Notes, (1910)
A new conscience and an ancient evil (1912)
With Balch, Emily Greene; and Hamilton, Alice. Women at the Hague: The International Congress of Women and Its Results. (1915)
The Long Road of Woman's Memory (1916)
Peace and Bread in Time of War 1922
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931, the Illinois native used many methods to enact social change, including the written word. She wrote, in biographies, essays, published speeches and memoirs, on subjects ranging from politics to social ethics to war. Her autobiography Twenty Years at Hull-House is an ambitious documentation of her work founding America’s best known settlement house, and contains the ideas embodied in her struggle to achieve social justice.
Saul Bellow: Letters, edited by Benjamin Taylor (2010)
There Is Simply Too Much to Think About (Viking, 2015), collected non-fiction
A winner of the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, three National Book Awards and the National Medal of Honor, Saul Bellow was a long-time resident and chronicler of Chicago. The Adventures of Augie March is essentially a realistic fictional rendering of Bellow’s own childhood in Chicago’s Humboldt Park, where he was immersed in an immigrant neighborhood bubbling with a hodgepodge of European languages, cultures and customs that included a population of more than 100,000 Jewish residents. Bellow’s first novel, Dangling Man, which he completed while serving as a Merchant Marine in World War II, revolves around a young Chicago man waiting to be drafted. Herzog,Humboldt’s Gift,A Dean’s December,The Actual and Ravelstein all concern Chicago characters and places, and often Bellow drew from early memories to render his social settings. In the Paris Review, Bellow said, “I really do see those Chicago environments as I represent them. They suggest their own style of presentation. I elaborate it.” Bellow attended Tuley High School, and then Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. In the 1930s, Bellow was a part of the Works Progress Administration’s Writer’s Project. In 1962, he returned to Chicago to be a professor on the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago; he remained part of the faculty more than 30 years. Ravelstein revolves around two University of Chicago professors, one of whom is widely acknowledged to be based on Bellow’s colleague Allan Bloom. Chicago designated the 2600-block of West Augusta “Saul Bellow Way” in a 2012 ceremony. He was elected into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 2010.