Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


James Baldwin: A biography

Posted on

James Baldwin hated being called a black writer as much as he hated being called a black stud, but Knopf’s PR blurb calls him ”one of the most influential black writers of our time.” David Leeming, a University of Connecticut English professor who was Baldwin’s friend and among the last to see him alive, shows in James Baldwin: A biography how Baldwin’s life as a double outsider (black and homosexual) shaped his writings. We meet Charlie Chaplin, Ingmar Bergman, John Cheever, Philip Roth, and William Styron. Baldwin studied theater with Marlon Brando, feuded with Norman Mailer, and regarded Martin Luther King with suspicion, noting he was ”uncomfortable with the idea of a clergyman’s leading a revolution.” Significant tidbits (like a Knopf editor pressuring Baldwin to rewrite Go Tell It on the Mountain ”without all the Jesus stuff”) enliven Leeming’s scholarship. The result: an authoritative celebration of one of America’s greatest…writers.