James Baldwin Biography | Author of The Rockpile

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James Baldwin, the illegitimate child of Berdis Emma Jones, was born in Harlem, New York, on August 2, 1924. Baldwin was the eldest of nine children and spent much of his time raising his younger brothers and sisters while his mother worked. This helped to shelter Baldwin from the harsh reality of Harlem street life during the Great Depression. Baldwin's stepfather, David Baldwin, was a religious man who ran a storefront church in addition to his day job. David forced his religious practices on all of his children, including the author, who tried unsuccessfully to please him. Failing to receive affection from his overworked mother and emotionally distant stepfather, Baldwin escaped into the world of literature, reading every book he could find. Throughout his public education, his own literary gifts were recognized and encouraged by influential people in his schools.

At fourteen, he underwent an intense religious conversion experience and...

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This section contains 497 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Rockpile Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
The Rockpile from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.