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Wallace Henry Thurman
(August 16, 1902 - December 22, 1934) U.S.A.

Wallace Thurman



One of the most versitile writers of the Harlem Renaissance, Thurman was born and grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, moving to Los Angeles as an adolescent and graduated from the University of Southern California. In the unpublished Notes on a Stepchild, Thurman portrays a precocious child suffering from frequent illness and from both inter- and itra-racial prejudice against those with his very black skin.

Moving to new York in 1925, and being arrested for indecency in a subway toilet a few days later, within four months he was editor of the Messenger, one of the most important African-American publications. Early in 1929 his first novel, The Blacker the Berry, was published. Also in 1929 Thurman tried (disastrously) mattiage with a woman: it lasted for six months. Thurman took work as a journalist, a reader, an editor and a ghostwriter in an effort to pay the bills.

He was the lover of a masculine white sailor, Harald Stefansson. Years of heavy drinking and neglect began to take their toll. He died in the Welfare Island City Hospital, of tubercolosis exacerbated by alcoholism.


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