Lorraine Hansberry: The Life Behind A Raisin in the Sun

Lorraine Hansberry: The Life Behind A Raisin in the Sun

by Charles J. Shields
Lorraine Hansberry: The Life Behind A Raisin in the Sun

Lorraine Hansberry: The Life Behind A Raisin in the Sun

by Charles J. Shields


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The moving story of the life of the woman behind A Raisin in the Sun, the most widely anthologized, read, and performed play of the American stage, by the New York Times bestselling author of Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee

Written when she was just twenty-eight, Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark A Raisin in the Sun is listed by the National Theatre as one of the hundred most significant works of the twentieth century. Hansberry was the first Black woman to have a play performed on Broadway, and the first Black and youngest American playwright to win a New York Critics’ Circle Award.

Charles J. Shields’s authoritative biography of one of the twentieth century’s most admired playwrights examines the parts of Lorraine Hansberry’s life that have escaped public knowledge: the influence of her upper-class background, her fight for peace and nuclear disarmament, the reason why she embraced Communism during the Cold War, and her dependence on her white husband—her best friend, critic, and promoter. Many of the identity issues about class, sexuality, and race that she struggled with are relevant and urgent today.

This dramatic telling of a passionate life—a very American life through self-reinvention—uses previously unpublished interviews with close friends in politics and theater, privately held correspondence, and deep research to reconcile old mysteries and raise new questions about a life not fully described until now.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250205537
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 01/18/2022
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 1,116,729
Product dimensions: 9.40(w) x 6.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Charles J. Shields is the author of Harper Lee’s New York Times bestselling biography Mockingbird, the Kurt Vonnegut biography And So It Goes, and the biography of John Edward Williams, The Man Who Wrote the Perfect Novel. Shields has spoken to hundreds of large audiences in schools, libraries, museums, and historic theaters and appeared in newspapers and magazines worldwide, including the Wall Street Journal, New Yorker, Huffington Post, and New York Times.

Table of Contents

Chronology xi

Introduction xiii

Part I Chicago 1

Chapter 1 Infant of the Spring 3

Chapter 2 "The King of the Kitchenettes" 14

Chapter 3 Stay Where You Belong 27

Chapter 4 American Princess 46

Part II Madison, Wisconsin 59

Chapter 5 Entering into a Romance 61

Chapter 6 The Young Progressives 77

Chapter 7 Mexico 85

Part III Harlem 95

Chapter 8 "Flag from a Kitchenette Window" 97

Chapter 9 Freedom 111

Chapter 10 "A Young Harriet Tubman" 121

Chapter 11 The Passport 135

Chapter 12 "I Do Love You" 145

Part IV Greenwich Village 161

Chapter 13 Camp Unity 163

Chapter 14 "One Becomes a Woman" 174

Chapter 15 "I Ain't Sick" 192

Chapter 16 "Cindy, Oh Cindy" 206

Chapter 17 The Invisible Lesbian 216

Part V The Great White Way 227

Chapter 18 "Go the Way Your Blood Beats" 229

Chapter 19 "Something Urgently on Its Way" 243

Chapter 20 Dismantling the Master's House 264

Chapter 21 Chitterlin' Heights 283

Epilogue 303

Notes 306

Selected Bibliography 348

Acknowledgments 353

Illustration Credits 356

Index 357

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