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Arna Wendell Bontemps

Born: 1902 in Alexandria, Louisiana
Died: June 4, 1973 in Nashville, North Carolina

Pen Name: None

Connection to Illinois: 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.

Biography: 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.

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers; Children; Young adult readers

Arna Wendell Bontemps on WorldCat :

Selected Titles

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

Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn. : 1980, ©1961.

Anyplace but here
ISBN: 082621116X OCLC: 35865427

University of Missouri Press, Columbia : [1997]

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: 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: 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: 268547500

Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge : ©2009.

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: 329454

[AMS Press], [New York], [1972, ©1959]

Kaleidoscope :
ISBN: 0152420010 OCLC: 1974886

Popo and Fifina
ISBN: 0195087658 OCLC: 28214971

Oxford University Press, New York : ©1993.

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: 763530

Dodd, Mead & Company, New York : ©1973.

Personal essays and short stories of the South.

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

Dodd, Mead New York, [1972]

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.