Ernest J. Gaines Additional Biography


Born on a southern Louisiana plantation, Ernest J. Gaines was raised by a disabled aunt who became the model for the strong women in his works, including Miss Jane Pittman. There was no high school for Gaines to attend, so he left Louisiana in 1948 to live with relatives in California, where he suffered from the effects of his displacement. Displacement—caused by racism, by Cajuns’ acquisition of land, or by loss of community ties—is a major theme for Gaines.

Young Gaines discovered works by John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, and Anton Chekhov, who wrote about the land. Not finding acceptable literary depictions of African Americans, Gaines resolved to write stories illuminating the lives and identities of his people. After completing military service, he earned a degree in English, published his first short stories, and received a creative writing fellowship at Stanford University.

Gaines rejected California as a subject for fiction, chose southern Louisiana as his major setting, and, like the Southern literary giant Faulkner, invented his own county. Catherine Carmier, an uneven apprentice novel, is the first of Gaines’s works revealing Louisiana’s physical beauty and folk speech.

Receiving a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Gaines published Of Love and Dust, inspired by a blues song about an African American who escapes prison by doing hard labor on a Louisiana plantation. This and...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Ernest James Gaines is one of the most accomplished storytellers among contemporary American writers of the South. The oldest of twelve children, he was born on River Lake Plantation near Oscar, Louisiana, to Manuel and Adrienne (Colar) Gaines. His parents worked as laborers on the plantation, and by age nine Gaines was also working in the fields, chopping cane for fifty cents a day. Gaines spent much of his early childhood with his aunt, Miss Augusteen Jefferson, whose inability to walk did not prevent her from providing for the boy. His aunt’s strength and courage amid adversity had a profound effect on young Ernest, who later drew upon his memories of Miss Augusteen to help create several of his most memorable characters....

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Ernest Gaines was born on a plantation on January 15, 1933 in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana. Even though he has lived primarily in San...

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Ernest J. Gaines was born on January 15, 1933, on the River Lake Plantation near New Roads, Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana. He was the son...

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Ernest J. Gaines, EJ for short, was born in the slave area of a Louisiana plantation on January 15, 1933. His father, Manuel, and mother,...

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Ernest J. Gaines was born on River Lake Plantation in Oscar, a hamlet of Pointe Coupee Parish in rural Louisiana. He was the first of twelve...

(The entire section is 440 words.)


Ernest J. Gaines Published by Gale Cengage

Amid the worst times of the Great Depression Ernest James Gaines was born on a plantation in Oscar, Louisiana, in 1933. At the age of nine,...

(The entire section is 551 words.)