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Leon Forrest

January 8, 1937 – November 6, 1997

Inducted in 2013

Works

There is a Tree More Ancient than Eden (1973)

The Bloodworth Orphans (1977)

Two Wings to Veil My Face (1984)

Relocations of the Spirit: Collected Essays (1994)

Divine Days (1992)

Meteor in the Madhouse (2001)

This blend of the sacred and the profane seems to me to be so much a part of the Northern experience, particularly a city like Chicago with its great possibilities of going for broke. It’s a hustler’s town. You can make a comeback after falling, and people will let you up.

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.

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