The Life and Work of Ralph Ellison

Topics: Ralph Ellison

Ralph Ellison was born in Oklahoma City in the year of 1914. Both Ralph and his younger brother were raised by their mother who was a nursemaid, a janitor and a domestic. Ralphs father died when he was only three years old. Ellison originally did not plan on being a famous author, rather he expected to become a musician and composer. At the age of 19, Ellison enrolled at Tuskegee Institute with a major in music. Specifically, he studied classical music and the symphonic form because of this dream of being a composer.

In 1936, Ellison moved to New York City thinking he would earn and save money for his senior year at college. Little did he know, he would never be going back to Tuskegee, and would never actually become a professional musician? While in the city, Ellison traveled in and out of jobs until his job as a cook for the U.S. Merchant Marine lead him to wanting to write a major novel.

Ralph Ellison did not start writing the “Invisible Man” until after World War II was over. He started writing it while at a friend’s farm in Vermont. When released, this book became an instant hit. It stayed on the bestseller lists for weeks and won the National Book Award the succeeding year. “Invisible Man” was regarded as “a groundbreaking meditation on race and marginalized communities in America, influencing future generations of writers and thinkers.”

After learning about Ralph Ellison’s life and reading about the Invisible Man’s life leads me to believe that his book is based off of his own personal experiences.

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It is inevitable to say that African Americans went through a lot of hard times in American history. Not many people know what it actually feels like to be treated how so many people were in the Jim Crow era. Because Ellison was born in a rural area and moved to the city, he saw how different people can be and the difference between more liberal people in the city and conservative people in the country.

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The Life and Work of Ralph Ellison. (2023, Jan 12). Retrieved from

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