The Greatest Generation (1901–1927)

By Howard Rambsy II

The Greatest Generation, people born between 1901 and 1927, include some of the first Black novelists to become widely popular and critically acclaimed, most notably Richard Wright (b. 1908), Ralph Ellison (b. 1914), and James Baldwin (b. 1924). The Greatest Generation came of age during the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II.

Among that famous trio, Wright, Ellison, and Baldwin, this generational cohort also included novelists Dorothy West  (b. 1907), Chester B. Himes   (b. 1909), Margaret Walker (b. 1915), Frank Yerby (b. 1916), John Oliver Killens (b. 1916), Louise Meriwether (b. 1923), John A. Williams (b. 1925), and Ann Allen Shockley (b. 1927), among others. Langston Hughes (b. 1901) and Countee Cullen (b. 1903), though more well-known as poets, also published novels, joining the creative output of various other Black authors from this generation.