This is the first full-scale biography of Gwendolyn Brooks, one of America's major poets. George E. Kent, a longtime friend and literary associate of the poet in Chicago, was given exclusive access to Brooks' early notebooks, which she kept from the age of seven. Kent also interviewed Brooks, her mother, and other family members in Chicago and elsewhere. He scoured records and correspondence with her publishers, editors, and agent. He participated in the poet's literary enterprises and in her wide circle of literary and family friends. The study reveals intimate acquaintance with the Harlem Renaissance, with the Chicago literary scene and its leading figures from the thirties on, with historical developments in black culture and consciousness, and with the significant figures and activities that impressed the poet's life and art. It places Brooks' work in the context of the civil rights movement, the black arts movement, and black nationalism. Gwendolyn Brooks won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1950 for Annie Allen and is today widely recognized as one of the nation's leading poets, yet her work has received less than its due from mainstream critics. Kent's authoritative book has been one step in correcting that neglect.
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