Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Leon Richard Forrest  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult; Adult;

Born: 1937 in Chicago, Illinois

Died: November 6, 1997 in Evanston, Illinois

-- Leon Forrest on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Forrest was born in Chicago and grew up on the city's South Side. He went to school at Wendell Phillips, Hyde Park Academy, Wilson Junior College and attended the University of Chicago. He taught African-American studies and English at Northwestern University.

Biographical and Professional Information

Leon Forrest was an African American novelist. His novels concerned mythology, history, and Chicago. Forrest attended Hyde Park High School, Wilson Junior College, Roosevelt University, and the University of Chicago. He served in Germany in the U.S. Army. After his term in the service, Forrest returned to Chicago determined to pursue a career as a writer.His first novel, ''There is a Tree More Ancient than Eden'', came out in 1973. His third novel ''Two Wings to Veil My Face'' won several awards. His fourth book, ''Divine Days'', won the Chicago Sun-Times Book of the Year Award for local fiction. He wrote and edited for several South Side community newspapers, and was a professor of English and African-American studies at Northwestern University for 24 years. He also served as president of the Society of Midland Authors.His stream-of-consciousness writing concerned the legacy of slavery and earned him a place on Chicago magazine’s ''Most Important Chicagoans of the 20th Century''. April 14, 1985 was declared as - Leon Forrest Day in Chicago by then Chicago Mayor, Harold Washington.

Selected Titles At Your Library

There is a tree more ancient than Eden /
ISBN: 0226257215. OCLC Number:

University of Chicago Press,. Chicago :. 2001.

The Bloodworth orphans /
ISBN: 0226257223. OCLC Number:

University of Chicago Press,. Chicago :. 2001.

Two wings to veil my face :
ISBN: 155921192X. OCLC Number:

Asphodel Press,. Wakefield, RI :. ©1997.

Divine days :
ISBN: 0393312216. OCLC Number:

Norton,. New York :. 1995.

Relocations of the spirit :
ISBN: 155921080X. OCLC Number:

Asphodel Press/Moyer Bell ;. Wakefield, R.I. :. ©1994.

In this collection's opening autobiographical essay entitled "In the Light of Likeness - Transformed," Leon Forrest tells us that he came from a lower-middle-class Negro household on the South Side of Chicago. My father was a bartender on the Santa Fe Railroad and Daddy would read to me and my mother when he was at home. My mother read to me constantly. My great-grandmother lived with us until I was ten, and I used to read the Bible to her, mainly the Old Testament."

Meteor in the madhouse /
ISBN: 0810151146. OCLC Number:

TriQuarterly Books,. Evanston, Ill. :. 2001.

"Five interconnected novellas framed by an account of the last days in the life of playwright Joubert Antoine Jones."--Jacket.


Two Wings to Veil My Face

  • Society of Midland Authors Award for adult fiction
  • DuSable Museum Certificate of Merit and Achievement in Fiction
  • Carl Sandburg Award
  • Friends of Literature Prize
  • Divine Days

  • Book of the Year Award for local fiction, Chicago Sun-Times

    Other Awards

  • Illinois Author of the Year, Illinois Association of Teachers of English, 1996
  • Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, 2013