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Sterling A. Brown (Sterling Allen Brown) Biography

(1901–89), (Sterling Allen Brown), Southern Road, The Negro in American Fiction, Negro Poetry and Drama

African-American poet and critic, born in Washington, DC, educated at Williams College, Massachusetts and at Harvard. In 1929 he became Professor of English at Howard University. Regarded as one of the fathers of modern African-American literature, his contribution as writer, teacher, editor, and reviewer spanned half a century from the Harlem Renaissance to the era of Black Power. His first book, Southern Road (1932), is a rich collection of folk ‘portraitures’. Like Langston Hughes, Brown drew on the traditional idioms of work song, ballad, spiritual, and blues, believing that to reinterpret and affirm black folk experience was ‘one of the most important tasks for Negro poetry’. His commitment to this task informed a wide range of other literary and critical activities, including editorial work for the Federal Writers' Project (19369), influential cultural surveys (The Negro in American Fiction and Negro Poetry and Drama, both 1937), and a landmark anthology, The Negro Caravan (1941). A further volume of his own poetry is The Last Ride of Wild Bill (1975); the early No Hiding Place, rejected by publishers in the 1930s on political grounds, finally appeared in Collected Poems (1980).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Bridgnorth Shropshire to Anthony Burgess [John Anthony Burgess Wilson Burgess] Biography