Haley, Alex(Alexander Murray Palmer Haley), 1921–92, American writer, b. Ithaca, N.Y. Haley was for a time one of the most famous writers in the United States as the author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family (1976). A novel loosely based on the history of his family, it traces seven generations of African and African-American life, from freedom and enslavement in Africa to 20th-century America. Haley was awarded (1977) a special Pulitzer Prize for the book. Roots was made into two television miniseries (1977, sequel 1979), and a remake of the first was televised in 2016. Haley was also the co-author (with its subject) of The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965), and wrote and interviewed for several periodicals.
See biography by R. J. Norrell (2015).
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Haley, (Alexander Murray Palmer) Alex(1921–92) journalist, writer; born in Ithaca, N.Y. He grew up in Henning, Tenn., studied at Elizabeth City (N.C.) Teachers College (1937–39), and became a journalist while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard (1939–59). Retiring from the service, he established himself in Los Angeles as a free-lance writer, distinguished by his Playboy interviews. He first gained some national attention as the collaborator-editor of The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965). His highly acclaimed work, Roots: The Saga of an American Family (1976, Pulitzer Prize) turned out to be a mixture of fact and fiction but was definitely based on his African-American roots; he had spent 12 years researching his ancestry and claimed to trace it to a Kunte Kinte, brought as a slave to America from Gambia in 1767. The book was the basis of a phenomenally successful television miniseries (1977), for which he received a special Pulitzer Prize and the Spingarn Medal. A sequel, Queen (1993), also appeared as a book and television miniseries.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.