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American Masters

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A Writer in the Making

Renowned novelist and activist James Baldwin laid the foundation for his lifetime of achievement during his childhood in 1930s Harlem. Baldwin spent countless hours in the 135th Street Public Library, soaking up as much knowledge as he could from books. He constantly wrote stories, poems and plays, often scribbling first drafts on paper bags. By the time he was 14, Baldwin knew he was destined to be a writer. Though this initially frightened his parents, Baldwin’s mother explained that even though she hadn’t predicted the success her son would have, she always knew he “had to write.”

 

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