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African American Women Writers

Alice Childress (1916 - 1994), American playwright and novelist, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, but many of the details of her early life, including her father's name, are unknown. Her mother Florence and her father separated when she was young, and at the age of five she boarded a train bound for Harlem, New York. Her grandmother saw to it that she had a wide range of experiences, taking her on walking tours of different parts of the city, to art galleries and theatres and to the churches of Harlem. At Wednesday night testimonials at Salem Church in Harlem, Childress would listen to poor people tell of their troubles, a major source for her as an adult writer. Childress also credits her grandmother with teaching her the art of storytelling, encouraging her to reflect on -- and imaginatively extend -- what she experienced and observed. She attended public school in New York, where she developed a liking for drama, but her schooling came to an abrupt end when both her grandmother and mother died in the early 1930s, and it became necessary for her to find work to support herself.

►Genre: Drama; Realistic fiction

►More about Alice Childress at ProQuest One Literature

By Alice Childress

About Alice Childress