Toni Cade Bambara lived from 1939 – 1995. Reaching adulthood in the late 1950s, she experienced and commented on the dramatic changes in African American life during the Civil Rights era. Although Bambara is primarily known as a fiction writer, her career included other professions and creative endeavors. The facts that each reader will find interesting about Bambara will vary among individuals. Her last name was originally Cade, and she added the surname Bambara in 1970.
The changing trajectory of her career provides a number of interesting facts. Growing up, her mother encouraged her awareness of the arts, and Cade (as she was still known) pursued those interests in college. Obtaining a college degree was hardly the norm for African American women in the 1950s, but she graduated from Queens College in her native New York. Cade studied theater and English. A few years later, she pursued her interests further in Europe. Cade studied mime in France and commedia dell’arte—originally a Renaissance comedy genre—in Italy. Back in the United States, Cade earned a master’s degree and taught English at numerous universities.
Although Bambara became a well-known writer, especially in the field of fiction, for a period she earned her living in other fields. Notably, she was a social worker while writing on the side and getting several stories published. Even after becoming well established as a literary figure, she tried new endeavors. From the 1980s on, she also worked in television and film production.
A biographical sketch of the author can be found in eNotes through the link provided.