Bontemps, Arna, 1902–73, African-American writer, b. Alexandria, La. He is best remembered as the author of the novel God Sends Sunday (1931), the basis of the play St. Louis Woman (1946); and of Black Thunder (1936), a tragic account of the slave insurrection led by Gabriel Prosser in Richmond, Va., in 1800. Bontemps was also an editor, anthologizer, and historian.
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Bontemps, Arna (Wendell)(1902–73) writer, anthologist, librarian; born in Alexandria, La. Raised in California, he took his B.A. at Pacific Union College there. He first published his poetry in 1923 in Crisis, the magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, edited by W. E. B. Du Bois. His Golgatha Is a Mountain (1925) won the Alexander Pushkin Award. He spent most of his career as the librarian and public relations director at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn. He also was a guest lecturer at various universities. He wrote several novels, including God Sends Sunday (1931) and Black Thunder (1936); the former was dramatized by Countee Cullen as St. Louis Woman (1946) and then set to music as Blues Opera. He edited American Negro Poetry and published several anthologies with Langston Hughes. (Their extensive correspondence was published in 1980.) His Story of the Negro (1948) won the Jane Addams Children's Book Award in 1956. He also wrote several children's books with Jack Conroy, including Sam Patch (1951).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.