Ralph Ellison Biography | Author of Shadow and Act

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Ralph Waldo Ellison was born on March 1, 1914, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. His father, who died when the author was three years old, named his son for the philosopher-writer Ralph Waldo Emerson in hopes that his son would one day become a poet. In his introduction to Shadow and Act, Ellison characterizes his Oklahoma community as a "chaotic" mix of cultural influences, curiously free of the race stigma inherent to the South and Northeast, and the epitome of the American frontier. The jazz scene in Oklahoma City and Kansas City, in particular, had an impact on the author's view of the world; he studied music throughout his childhood, and when he finished high school, traveled to Tuskegee University in pursuit of formal training in classical music. He was a voracious reader all of his life and, while at Tuskegee, Ellison read T. S. Eliot's The Wasteland, which moved him...

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This section contains 403 words
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Shadow and Act from Nonfiction Classics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.