Bebe Moore Campbell is a much-admired African American writer. When she was ten months old her father, George Linwood Peter Moore, became a paraplegic as the result of an automobile accident. Shortly thereafter, her parents were divorced. As she explains in her autobiographical book Sweet Summer: Growing Up with and Without My Dad, Campbell then lived in two very different worlds. The school year was spent in Philadelphia in a household dominated by three women—her mother, her grandmother, and her aunt—where she was exposed to culture and taught moral values, good manners, and standard grammar. During the summer Campbell stayed with her father and his mother in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where life was easy-going, filled with the cigar smoke and the laughter of a horde of males, who provided another kind of nurture for George’s little girl. Thus, though a child of divorce, Campbell grew up feeling that she was a person of great value.
Campbell went to the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in elementary education. After graduating summa cum laude, she taught for five years, first in Atlanta, then in Washington. Marrying a childhood sweetheart, she had a child, Maia. Three years later, the marriage ended in divorce.
Having left teaching to care for her baby, Campbell decided to make her living as a freelance writer, and soon her articles and her short stories were appearing in national magazines. Many of them concerned family relationships, a subject which had always interested her but which took on new meaning when she had to deal with the sudden death of her father in 1977, with the breakup of her marriage, and with Maia’s reactions to the divorce.
In 1983 Campbell moved to Los Angeles, and thereafter her life took a turn for the better. She met and married Ellis Gordon, Jr., a banker, and acquired a stepson, Ellis Gordon III. In 1986 Campbell’s first book appeared, Successful Women, Angry Men: Backlash in the Two-Career Marriage, which had been expanded from one of her articles. Her second book, Sweet Summer: Growing Up with and Without My Dad, also developed out of an article, in this case one she had published seven years before as a Father’s Day feature in The Washington Post. Campbell had a specific purpose in writing her memoir. By using her own experience as an...
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