"Author, intellectual, and social critic, Ralph Ellison (1914-1994) was a pivotal figure in American literature and history and arguably the father of African American modernism. Universally acclaimed for his first novel, Invisible Man, a masterpiece of modern fiction, and, more recently, for Juneteenth, Ellison was recognized with a stunning succession of honors, including the 1953 National Book Award. Yet, despite rich literary accomplishment and important friendships, political activism, and historical impact, Ellison's life has never been the subject of a biography. He has received surprisingly sparse treatment by biographers of other leading American literary figures, historians, and social critics. Here is a thoroughly researched biography that tells the coming-of-age story of one of the most gifted and influential writers of our time." "Enhanced by photographs of Ellison, this long-deserved examination draws from archives, literary correspondence, and interviews with Ellison's relatives, friends, and associates. Tracing his path from poverty in Dustbowl Oklahoma to his rise among the literary elite, Lawrence Jackson explores the author's relationships with other stars, particularly Langston Hughes and Richard Wright, and examines his never-before-documented involvement in the Socialist Left of the 1930s and '40s, the black radical rights movement of the same period, and the League of American Writers. The result is a fascinating portrait of a fraternal cadre of important black writers and critics - and the singularly complex and intriguing man at its center."--Jacket.