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Last edited by Clean Up Bot
March 31, 2017 | History

Ernest J. Gaines

15 January 1933 -

Ernest J. Gaines was born on a plantation in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, the oldest of 12 children. His parents moved to Vallejo, California during World War II, so he was raised by his aunt, who was crippled and limited to crawling to get around. His was the fifth generation of share croppers to live on the plantation, and his family lived in a house that had formerly been slave quarters. During the summers, he picked cotton, and during the winters he was educated at the the plantation church. He spent three years at St. Augustine School, a Catholic school for African Americans in New Roads, but his education ended at the eighth grade because there was no further education offered to African-American children at that time. So, he joined his mother and stepfather in Vallejo, California. He wrote his first novel, Catherine Carmier, at age 17, and a rewritten version of it was published in 1964. In the meantime, his first short story, "The Turtles", was published in a college magazine at San Francisco State University in 1956. In 1957 he received a degree in literature from SFSU. After spending two years in the Army, he won a writing fellowship to Stanford University.

Since 1984, Gaines has spent the first half of every year in San Francisco and the second half in Lafayette, where he teaches a creative writing workshop every autumn at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. When in Louisiana, he and his wife live in a home built on the plantation where he grew up.

His 1993 novel, A Lesson Before Dying, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Gaines has been a MacArthur Foundation fellow, awarded the National Humanities Medal, and inducted into the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) as a Chevalier.

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March 31, 2017 Edited by Clean Up Bot add VIAF and wikidata ID
December 2, 2011 Edited by caf21 merge authors
December 2, 2011 Edited by caf21 Changed name order, added bio, added to birth date, removed alternate name, added Wikipedia link
December 2, 2011 Edited by caf21 Added new photo
April 1, 2008 Created by an anonymous user initial import