(1914 - 1994)
While studying music at the Tuskegee Institute in the mid-1930s, Ralph Ellison experienced his “real transition to writing” upon reading T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. He then began publishing essays and stories in 1937, worked on the Federal Writers’ Project from 1938 to 1942, and served in the merchant marine during World War II. His only completed novel, Invisible Man, received the National Book Award in 1953. Over the remainder of his life, he lectured widely on black culture and creative writing and taught at various American colleges in university, before dying at the age of eighty in 1994.