21 Impressive Ralph Ellison Facts: The Man Behind The 'Invisible Man'Ralph Lauren facts | Kidadl


21 Impressive Ralph Ellison Facts: The Man Behind The 'Invisible Man'Ralph Lauren facts

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An award-winning novelist, scholar, and critic, Ralph Waldo Ellison is best known for his book, 'Invisible Man.'

This novel was on the bestseller list for 16 weeks and also won him the National Book Award. His second novel, 'Juneteenth' was published in 1994, after he had died. This book has been said to be one of the most important books of the 20th century. It took Ellison seven years to write, from 1945-1952.

In 2013, this book was banned in North Carolina schools due to a complaint filed by a parent objecting to the language and content. The book was removed from schools and libraries in Randolph County. However, due to national and local protests, this decision was reversed.

A stamp was issued by the United States Postal Service as a part of its Literary Arts series honoring this great American writer on February 18, 2014. Near Ellison's home, where he resided from the '50s until his death, is a park dedicated to him. In this park, there is a large bronze slab with a cutout man figure representing the 'Invisible Man'.

If you find this article about Ralph Ellison interesting, why not also read Ralph Bunche facts and Ralph Lauren facts here on Kidadl?

Ralph Ellison - Life History

Ralph Ellison, born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on March 1, 1913, was named after Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American essayist, poet, and abolitionist.

His father was Lewis Alfred Ellison, and his mother was Ida Millsap. Ellison was the middle child. The older child died in infancy, and his younger brother, Herbert Maurice, was born in 1916. Ellison's father died in 1916 due to a work-related injury.

Ellison's mother and the children moved from Oklahoma City to Gary, Indiana, in 1921, after his father's death, as she wanted to be closer to her brother. However, after she lost her job and was not able to find another, she moved back to Oklahoma.

Ellison took up many small jobs during this time. They included working as a busboy, a shoeshine boy, an assistant to a dentist, and a waiter. He learned how to play the trumpet and alto saxophone and became the bandmaster at school.

He attended Douglass High School and played on the football team. In 1931, Ellison finished high school. Ellison secured a seat at the prestigious Tuskegee Institute in 1933 after being turned down twice. This all-black university was located in Alabama and was founded by Booker T. Washington. He enrolled here to be a music major because he wanted to be a symphony composer. He spent quite a bit of time in the library and read 'The Waste Land' by T.S. Eliot, which he said was a moment of awakening for him. He also read James Joyce and Gertrude Stein.

Another major influence on him at the university was Morteza Drexel Sprague, his English teacher. With the guidance of this teacher, Ellison studied 'Crime and Punishment' by Fyodor Dostoevsky and 'Jude the Obscure' by Thomas Hardy. These notable works had a major impact on him. He later dedicated his collection of essays, 'Shadow and Act,' to Sprague.

Ellison was at Tuskegee Institute till 1936 but did not complete the necessary requirements to obtain a degree. He then moved to New York in the same year to study sculpture. In New York City, he met Langston Hughes, a well-known author. He met and formed friendships with many artists, including Romare Bearden and the author Richard Wright. After Ellison wrote a book review for Wright, he was encouraged to take up writing by his friends and joined the New York Federal Writers program.

'Hymie's Bull' was the first story by Ralph Ellison that was published. He was inspired to write this story while traveling by train to get to Tuskegee. Magazines such as 'The New Challenge' and 'The New Masses' published book reviews and short stories written by Ellison between 1937 and 1944.

He was introduced to the Communist Party through his friends, Hughes and Wright. Ralph Waldo Ellison joined the United States Merchant Marines during World War II as a cook. He started writing his first novel to support his wife. The novel 'Invisible Man,' which was 581 pages long, was published in 1952 by Random House. It contained powerful and important themes such as race and black nationalism.

He traveled to Europe in 1955 and stayed in Rome for a while, and worked as a lecturer. In 1958, he returned to the United States and began teaching Russian literature at Bard College. In 1964, Ellison published a collection of essays called 'Shadow and Act.'

In addition to writing, Ellison taught at a number of prestigious institutes. From 1970-1980, Ellison was the Albert Schweitzer Professor of Humanities at New York University. In addition to that, he also taught at Bard College, the University of Chicago, and Rutgers University.

Ellison married Rose Poindexter in 1938, but the couple parted ways in 1943. He then married Fanny McConnell in 1946. They were devoted to each other until he died. Ellison did not have any children.

Ralph Ellison died in April 1994 of pancreatic cancer. He is buried in a crypt at Trinity Church Cemetery in Manhattan.

Ellison is buried at Trinity Church, New York.

Ralph Ellison - Awards

Ellison won many awards throughout his career.

He won the US National Book Award for Fiction in 1953 for 'Invisible Man.' Due to this award, Ralph Waldo Ellison gained entry into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1975.

Ellison also received two President's Medals. One from Lyndon Johnson and another from Ronald Reagan. France also awarded him a State Medal. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969.

In 1970, France made him a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres—an order established by the Ministry of Culture of France in 1957.

He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1985 in the US.

In 1984, Ellison received the Langston Hughes Medal, awarded by New York City College.

Ellison was the first African American to be a member of the Century Association, a private social, arts, and dining club in New York City. It's a club for distinguished men and women in the fields of literature and the arts.

Harvard University awarded Ellison an honorary doctorate.

Also, among the many notable awards and achievements was the special achievement award by the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards.

The Fellowship of Southern Writers is another prestigious organization that invited Ellison to become a member.

Ralph Ellison - Contribution To Society

Ellison's novel, 'Invisible Man' was about how people of color are treated and overlooked in America. A theme that could be said to be relevant even today.

The book is about a person trying to determine who they are and their place in society. It is in the form of a first-person narration. The narrator is an African American man, and the story is set in the Deep South and then in '30s New York City.

In 'Invisible Man', the author examines the divide between the North and South American countries, as well as the issue of racism. Unlike his contemporaries, such as Richard Wright, the characters of Ellison's novels were educated and self-aware.

In addition to the 'Invisible Man,' Ellison wrote many short stories, a collection of essays, and other non-fiction works. He is considered among the most important American writers of the 20th century.

Ralph Ellison-Based Movies

Several of Ellison's works were discovered in his home after his death.This led to the publication of 'Flying Home' and other stories in 1996.

Also published later was his second novel, 'Juneteenth,' and on January 26, 2010, the Modern Library collectively published all the manuscripts of another incomplete novel.

There were also films released based on and inspired by the man and his life.

'Ralph Ellison: An American Journey' (2002): This is a documentary about the life of Ralph Ellison. There are scenes from his well-known book, 'Invisible Man' and interviews with the writer. Ellison never allowed his book to be made into a movie. After Ellison died, his widow, Fanny McConnell, allowed the filming of the movie scenes only after the estate of Ellison had reviewed the script.

'King Of The Bingo Game' (1999): Set during the Depression, this movie revolves around the life of a black man who plays bingo to support his family. It is based on one of the many short stories written by Ellison that were published before he started writing his bestseller, 'Invisible Man.'

Famous Quotes By Ralph Ellison

The following are some of Ellison's most famous quotes.

'When I discover who I am, I'll be free.'

- Ralph Ellison, 'Invisible Man'

'Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.'

- Ralph Ellison, 'Invisible Man'

'I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer.'

- Ralph Ellison, 'Invisible Man'

'Without the possibility of action, all knowledge comes to one labeled 'file and forget."

– Ralph Ellison, 'Invisible Man'

'The world is a possibility if only you'll discover it.'

- Ralph Ellison, 'Invisible Man'

'I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you sometimes see in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me, they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me.'

- Ralph Ellison, 'Invisible Man'

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 21 impressive Ralph Ellison facts: all on the man behind 'Invisible Man,' then why not take a look at how fast can a hippo swim? Can hippos swim in deep water, or how fast can a dog run? Cool facts about the fastest dog breeds.

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