James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, and activist. His essays, collected in Notes of a Native Son (1955), explore intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in the Western society of the United States during the mid-twentieth-century. Some of Baldwin's essays are book-length, including The Fire Next Time (1963), No Name in the Street (1972), and The Devil Finds Work (1976). An unfinished manuscript, Remember This House, was expanded and adapted for cinema as the Academy Award-nominated documentary film I Am Not Your Negro (2016). One of his novels, If Beale Street Could Talk, was adapted into the Academy Award-winning film of the same name in 2018, directed and produced by Barry Jenkins.
Baldwin's novels, short stories, and plays fictionalize fundamental personal questions and dilemmas amid complex social and psychological pressures. Themes of masculinity, sexuality, race, and class intertwine to create intricate narratives that run parallel with some of the major political movements toward social change in mid-twentieth-century America, such as the civil rights movement and the gay liberation movement. Baldwin's protagonists are often but not exclusively African American, and gay and bisexual men frequently feature as protagonists in his literature. These characters often face internal and external obstacles in their search for social- and self-acceptance. Such dynamics are prominent in Baldwin's second novel, Giovanni's Room, which was written in 1956, well before the gay liberation movement.
Books by James Baldwin
Robinson Crusoe Written Anew for Children
First published in 1719, Robinson Crusoe is a book that marks the beginning of realistic fiction writing in English. Its simple, linear narrative style and the semblance of being a true account and autobiographical in nature led to its great populari...
Fifty Famous Stories Retold
King Alfred and the Cakes. Damon and Pythias. The Sword of Damocles. Bruce and the Spider. These are stories that many people who grew up in the last century would be familiar with. They were included in our text books or to be found in anthologies i...
Four Great Americans: Washington, Franklin, Webster, Lincoln
Written for children, James Baldwin's history of Washington, Franklin, Webster, and Lincoln brings these men to life in a way that will be interesting for adults as well. The stories touch on the little humanities of the great men, rather than dwelli...
Old Greek Stories
A retelling of old Greek stories involving mythological heroes and their adventures. Tales include those of Prometheus, Io, Perseus and Theseus.