Charles Henry Fuller, Jr., was born in Philadelphia on March 5, 1939, the son of Charles Henry and Lillian (Anderson) Fuller. The son of a printer, Fuller was educated in Philadelphia, attended Villanova University, then served in the U.S. Army from 1959 to 1962. In 1962, he married Miriam A. Nesbitt, and they had two children, Charles III and David. He resumed his studies at LaSalle in Philadelphia from 1965 to 1967 and went on to become the cofounder and codirector of the Afro-American Arts Theatre in Philadelphia from 1967 to 1971. In 1982, LaSalle awarded him an honorary degree after the stage success of A Soldier’s Play (1981). Honorary degrees than followed in 1983 from Villanova University and in 1965 from Chestnut Hill College as Fuller became one of Philadelphia’s most famous writers. He was appointed professor of African-American studies at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Fuller’s plays began to appear during the late 1960’s. In 1968, his two-act play The Village: A Party was produced in Princeton, New Jersey, in October; in March of 1969 it was produced in New York City as The Perfect Party. In 1972, a collection of six of Fuller’s one-act plays was produced in New York City under the title In My Many Names and Days. Other plays that followed in 1974 included the one-act First Love, the two-act In the Deepest Part of Sleep, and the three-act The Candidate. In 1976, his...
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Fuller’s probing examinations of the corrosive effects of racism have earned him the admiration of critics and the attention of a wide audience. The popular success of his best-known work, A Soldier’s Play, in both its stage and film versions demonstrates that serious—even disquieting—literature need not be the exclusive province of academics and the avant-garde. Fuller has transcended the limitations implied in such labels as “black playwright” to earn recognition simply as one of America’s most accomplished dramatists.
Charles Henry Fuller, Jr., was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 5, 1939. In the course of time, his parents housed twenty foster children, eventually adopting two of them. The family lived in a Philadelphia housing project until Fuller’s father, a printer, went into business for himself and became one of the first African Americans admitted to the local printer’s union. Soon, the family moved to a racially mixed neighborhood in North Philadelphia, where the Fullers, devout Roman Catholics, sent their children to integrated parochial schools.
As a young boy, Fuller became interested in books through helping his father correct galley proofs; when he was thirteen and had gone to the theater for the first time in his life to see Molly Picon performing in Yiddish (a language he did not even understand), he was so exhilarated that he was convinced he wanted to do nothing but write plays. In high school, he formed a lifelong friendship with Larry Neal, to whom he later dedicated A Soldier’s Play and after whom he modeled its leading character, Captain Richard Davenport. Because Neal also was devoted to literature, eventually becoming a published poet and critic, the two young men buoyed up each other’s ambitions. After graduation from high school in 1956, Fuller, an English major, attended Villanova University, where he was discouraged from writing because of his race. He left in 1959 to enlist in the army in Japan and South Korea,...
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