Motley, Willard

Motley, Willard (Francis)

(1912–65) writer; born in Chicago. Schooled in Chicago, he held a variety of jobs, including ranch hand, cook, and interviewer for the Chicago Housing Authority. After deciding to become a writer and settling in Chicago's slums, he wrote Knock on Any Door (1947), a naturalistic account of the degradation of a young boy. His subsequent novels were not as well-received, but his final novel, Let Noon Be Fair, published posthumously (1966), won critical praise. Although an African-American, Motley said, "My race is the human race." He died of gangrene in Mexico City, Mexico, where he lived.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.