Rifon 1 Max Rifon English 2H-03 Mrs. O‟Connor Oct.

10, 2011

August Wilson Biography

August Wilson came into this world as Frederick August Kittell on April 27 of 1945, the son of Frederick Wilson Sr. and Daisy Wilson. August Jr., the fourth of six children, grew up “in a ghetto area of Pittsburgh called the hill” (181, Drama for Students), which primarily poor African American residents populated. Frederick Kittell Sr. abandoned the family when his son was still a child, challenging Daisy with having to care for her six children with only welfare and her janitorial earnings. Daisy Wilson eventually married Frederick‟s stepfather David Bedford, who moved the family into a white suburb. This move proved difficult as fellow students ostracized Kittell and teachers unjustly misjudged him and doubted his intelligence, along with the fact that “He frequently found notes on his desk reading „Nigger go home‟” (August Wilson, Gale Reference). Bricks were thrown through the windows of his home. In grade nine a history teacher falsely accused Kittell of plagiarism after he wrote a twenty-page paper on Napoleon of France; this episode led to Kittell dropping out of high school and educating himself on the streets and in the county library. Kittell’s decision went against everything his mother had wanted for him, however he still decided to “[turn] to the city’s tobacco shops, barber shops, and street

Rifon 2 corners for schooling of a different sort. In 1965 Kittell moved into his own home and began a string of menial jobs to get by in life. and The Coldest Day of the Year (1977)—were written for this theater” (241. These locations allowed Kittell to build sizeable knowledge of the varied lives of the working class African Americans. even though he had originally wanted to become a famous poet rather than a playwright. In 1970 Frederick Kittell changed his name to August Wilson to get closer to his African roots and denounce his relation to his father. leading to his future mission to achieve his own racial awareness. the hope for Kittell was to promote social change through the theater. Ironically his career in school ended with false accusation of plagiarism. which the Conference accepted and gave a stage reading to .” (Frederick Kittell. Some of “His earliest one-act plays—Recycle (1973). He became caught up in the black rights movement until in 1968 he cofounded the Black Horizons on the Hill Theatre. including a one-year period in the military. African American Writers). yet he earned the twenty dollars he purchased his first typewriter with by writing a term paper for his sister. This test led to the creation of Ma Rainey‟s Black Bottom. In 1979. However Kittell did not limit his schooling to the street as he also spent time in public libraries reading novels written by a wide variety of African American authors. Gale Reference). His time spent interacting with these people helped to form credible characters in his plays illustrating the African American experience. August Wilson began submitting his plays to the O‟Neill National Playwrights Conference who rejected his first four submissions. The Homecoming (1976). leading to Wilson rethinking his talent and deciding to test his own abilities.

Wilson finished his final play. Luckily for Wilson. Richards and Wilson collaborated for many years and after the strong encouragement from Richards. These grants allowed Wilson to continue to focus solely on writing and his own creativity. In 1990 Wilson moved to Seattle. Wilson finally lost his battle with liver cancer on October 2. . Only months before his death. Lloyd Richards. Wilson applied for and recieved several grants. which the Mark Taper Forum presented. which elaborated upon the decade by decade African American experience in America. Washington to continue writing his cycle of plays. at the Conferences reading he met the director of the conference. 2005.in 1982. Radio Golf.

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