The moving story of the life of the woman behind A Raisin in the Sun, the most widely anthologized, read, and performed play of the American stage, by the New York Times bestselling author of Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee
Written when she was just twenty-eight, Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark A Raisin in the Sun is listed by the National Theatre as one of the hundred most significant works of the twentieth century. Hansberry was the first Black woman to have a play performed on Broadway, and the first Black and youngest American playwright to win a New York Critics’ Circle Award.
Charles J. Shields’s authoritative biography of one of the twentieth century’s most admired playwrights examines the parts of Lorraine Hansberry’s life that have escaped public knowledge: the influence of her upper-class background, her fight for peace and nuclear disarmament, the reason why she embraced Communism during the Cold War, and her dependence on her white husband—her best friend, critic, and promoter. Many of the identity issues about class, sexuality, and race that she struggled with are relevant and urgent today.
This dramatic telling of a passionate life—a very American life through self-reinvention—uses previously unpublished interviews with close friends in politics and theater, privately held correspondence, and deep research to reconcile old mysteries and raise new questions about a life not fully described until now.