Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Arna Wendell Bontemps  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult; Young Adult; Children;

Born: 1902 in Alexandria, Louisiana

Died: June 4, 1973 in Nashville, North Carolina

-- Arna Wendell Bontemps on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

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.


His children's book, Story of the Negro , was a 1949 Newbery Honor Book and the Jane Addams Book Award in 1956.

Selected Titles At Your Library

100 years of Negro freedom /
ISBN: 0313222185. OCLC Number: 6016600

Greenwood Press,. .

Anyplace but here
ISBN: 082621116X. OCLC Number: 35865427

University of Missouri Press,. .

Tells the story of the internal migration of African-Americans in the United States, beginning in the slavery days and continuing over the course of a century.

Black thunder
ISBN: 0807063371. OCLC Number: 24540337

. .

When a fellow slave is murdered, Gabriel Prosser decides to lead a revolt against the slaveowners of Richmond.

Chariot in the sky :
ISBN: 0030802164. OCLC Number: 267300

. .

Eleven black students form a singing group and tour the world in an attempt to save their college from financial ruin.

Drums at dusk :
ISBN: 9780807134399. OCLC Number: 268547500

Louisiana State University Press,. .

Drums at Dusk is a story of love, violence, and race set at the outbreak of the Haitian Revolution in 1791. The novel explores the complex web of tensions connecting wealthy plantation owners, poor whites, free people of color, and the slaves who stunned the colony and the globe by uniting in a carefully planned uprising.

God sends Sunday,
ISBN: 0404001378. OCLC Number: 329454

[AMS Press],. .

Kaleidoscope :
ISBN: 0152420010. OCLC Number: 1974886

. .

Popo and Fifina
ISBN: 0195087658. OCLC Number: 28214971

Oxford University Press,. .

Popo and Fifina move from the country to a village in Haiti where Papa Jean plans to earn a living as a fisherman.

The Old South :
ISBN: 0396067883. OCLC Number: 763530

Dodd, Mead & Company,. .

Personal essays and short stories of the South.

Young Booker; Booker T. Washington's early days,
ISBN: 0396065147. OCLC Number: 1164679

Dodd, Mead. .

Traces the events of his youth and early career that were the driving force behind Booker T. Washington's determination to help educate his people.