Arna Wendell Bontemps
Pen Name: None
Born: 1902 in Alexandria, Louisiana
Died: June 4, 1973 in Nashville, North Carolina
Bontemps lived in Illinois at different times from 1923 through 1969. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a masters degree in library science in 1943.
Biographical and Professional Information
Arna Wendell Bontemps was an American poet and a noted member of the Harlem Renaissance. He is probably best known for the 1931 novel God Sends Sunday, the 1936 novel Black Thunder, and the 1966 anthology Great Slave Narratives. He also wrote the 1946 play St. Louis Woman with Countee Cullen.
Bontemps was a teacher in Chicago from 1923-38. In 1943, after graduating from the University of Chicago with a masters degree in library science, Bontemps was appointed head librarian at Fisk University in Nashville, TN. He held that position for 22 years and developed important collections and archives of African-American literature and culture, namely the Langston Hughes Renaissance Collection.
After retiring from the Fisk University in 1966, he worked at the University of Illinois at Chicago until 1969 and Yale University, where he served as curator to the James Weldon Johnson Collection. Through his librarianship and bibliographic work, Bontemps has become a leading figure in establishing African-American literature as a legitimate object of study and preservation.
God Sends Sundays, Harcourt, 1931
Popo and Fifina, Children of Haiti, Macmillan, 1932 - written with Langston Hughes
You Can’t Pet a Possum, Morrow, 1934
Black Thunder, Macmillan, 1936
Sad-faced Boy, Houghton Mifflin, 1937
Drums at Dusk: a Novel, Macmillan, 1939
The Fast Sooner Hound, Arna Bontemps, Houghton Mifflin, 1942 - written with Jack Conroy
They Seek a City, Doubleday, 1945
We Have Tomorrow, Houghton Mifflin, 1945
Slappy Hooper, the Wonderful Sign Painter, Houghton Mifflin, 1946 - written with Jack Conroy
Story of the Negro, Knopf, 1948
George Washington Carver, Row, Peterson, 1950
Chariot in the Sky: a Story of the Jubilee Singers, Breman, 1963
Famous Negro Athletes, Dodd, Mead, 1964
Mr. Kelso’s Lion, Lippincott, 1970
Free at Last: the Life of Frederick Douglass, Dodd, Mead, 1971
Young Booker: Booker T. Washington’s Early Days, Dodd, Mead, 1972
The Old South: "A Summer Tragedy" and Other Stories of the Thirties, Dodd, Mead, 1973
100 Years of Negro Freedom,Greenwood Publishing Grp,Inc., 1980
Titles for Purchase and at Your Library
God Sends Sunday
Release Date: 1972-06
100 Years of Negro Freedom
Release Date: 1980-06-27
Release Date: 2007-08-30
His children's book, Story of the Negro, was a 1949 Newbery Honor Book and the Jane Addams Book Award in 1956.
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