Lorraine Hansberry Additional Biography


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

To some readers, Hansberry has appeared more interested in gaining acceptance from the largely white literary establishment than in speaking out unabashedly for the oppressed black minority. Her plays, however, reveal the falsity of this impression: She not only refused to soothe her audience’s guilt over their responsibility for past inequities but also increasingly challenged them to adopt a radical, even an openly revolutionary stance to ending those injustices.

A biographer once wrote of Lillian Hellman, another important American dramatist: “She was, is, a lasting voice, and when all the storms . . . are done, it will still be heard. She has a final place. She is a writer.” These words could serve equally appropriately as Hansberry’s epitaph.


(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

With the successful Broadway opening in 1959 of A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry became a major voice in behalf of racial, sexual, economic, and class justice. During Hansberry’s childhood, her father, a well-to-do real estate broker, and her mother, a schoolteacher, were involved in politics and were active supporters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and its causes. Hansberry grew up in a Chicago household where racial issues, oppression, African American identity, and the struggle against discrimination were major concerns. Her early intellectual development was influenced by her uncle, William Leo Hansberry, a professor and scholar at Howard University and writer of...

(The entire section is 412 words.)


(American Culture and Institutions Through Literature, 1960-1969)

Early Life

Although born on the Southside of Chicago and surrounded by the poverty of the black ghetto, Lorraine Vivian Hansberry, nevertheless, had a privileged upbringing. Her father, a successful property owner, and her mother, a trained teacher, nurtured a home life rich with books and an appreciation of learning. However, the cruel fact of racism was early ingrained in her when her father sought to move his family into a predominately white neighborhood. They met with intense and often violent white resistance, forcing her father to fight a winning case before the Supreme Court for the right to raise his family where he chose.

After being educated in the Chicago public schools, Hansberry...

(The entire section is 731 words.)


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Lorraine Vivian Hansberry was born on May 19, 1930, in the South Side of Chicago, the black section of the city. Her parents, Carl and Mamie Hansberry, were well-off. Her father was a United States deputy marshal for a time and then opened a successful real estate business in Chicago. Despite her family’s affluence, they were forced by local covenants to live in the poor South Side. When Hansberry was eight years old, her father decided to test the legality of those covenants by buying a home in a white section of the city. Hansberry later recalled one incident that occurred shortly after the family’s move to a white neighborhood: A mob gathered outside their home, and a brick, thrown through a window, barely missed her before...

(The entire section is 872 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The youngest playwright and the first black writer ever to win the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, Lorraine Hansberry is one of the most important American authors, an artist whose work influenced a whole generation of black writers and opened the way for the publication and production of their work. The play that brought her to prominence, A Raisin in the Sun, won the award during a theatrical season that also launched new plays by acknowledged masters Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill.

Born Lorraine Vivian Hansberry, the playwright was the youngest of the four children of Carl A. Hansberry, a realtor and black activist, and Nanny Perry Hansberry, a former schoolteacher and a committeewoman....

(The entire section is 978 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Lorraine Vivian Hansberry was born on May 19, 1930, into an upper-middle-class black family living on Chicago’s racially segregated south side. Her father, Carl, was a United States deputy marshal who ran unsuccessfully for Congress; her mother, Nannie, was a Republican ward committee member who gave her daughter a white fur coat for her fifth Christmas, which provoked taunts by her classmates. In the late 1930’s the family purchased a home in a white neighborhood, inciting open hostility that resulted in a brick flung through a window, barely missing Lorraine. Although the state courts ordered their eviction, Carl successfully appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which struck down restrictive covenants based on race....

(The entire section is 772 words.)


(Drama for Students)

Born in Chicago in 1930, Lorraine Hansberry was the youngest of four children. Her father, Carl Hansberry, was a successful real estate...

(The entire section is 369 words.)