Reginald McKnight Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Perhaps no other writer devotes so much attention to defining race and culture in the United States in the post-Civil Rights movement era as Reginald McKnight. Born in Germany in 1956 to Frank McKnight and Pearl Anderson McKnight, as the son of a career Air Force sergeant, he spent his childhood living all over the United States. As an adult, he would continue this pattern by frequently relocating, as if to feed some embedded need to explore culture and race geographically.

After earning a degree from Colorado College in 1981, McKnight embarked upon what was to be the pivotal experience of his life: He went to Dekal, Senegal, to teach English as a second language at the American Cultural Center. There he spent some two years, living much of the time in a rural African village without any modern amenities. He became fascinated with such matters as being black, being African, being African American, and being white and “mainstream”—these issues of identity pervade his works. Speaking neither French nor Wolof (the main language in Senegal), while in Africa he wrote at least eight hours each day and produced about 250,000 words, most of which were apprenticeship material.

After returning to the United States to teach English in Colorado Springs and Denver, he married Michelle Davis in 1985 and settled into a routine of teaching and writing with even more vigor and seriousness. In 1988 he published a collection of short fiction titled...

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(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Reginald McKnight was born in Fürstenfeldbruck, Germany, to military parents in 1956. His father Frank was a U.S. Air Force noncommissioned officer, and his mother Pearl was a dietician. Because of his military background, McKnight has lived all over the world, moving a total of forty-three times. After a brief stint in the U.S. Marine Corps, McKnight earned an associate degree in anthropology (1978) from Pike Peak Community College and a B.A. in African literature (1981) from Colorado College. He received the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study folklore and literature in West Africa, so he spent a year teaching and writing in Senegal. In 1987, he earned an M.A. in English with an emphasis in creative writing from the University of Denver. McKnight has taught at Arapahoe Community College, the University of Denver, and the University of Maryland at College Park. He married Michele Davis in 1985 and had two daughters.