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Ralph Ellison Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

Ralph Waldo Ellison was named after the Transcendentalist poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ellison's father Lewis Alfred Ellison, who died in an accident when Ralph was a toddler, told people that his son would grow up to be a poet.17

Ellison traveled by boxcar to attend the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.18

Ellison and his second wife, Fanny McConnell, were introduced to one another by poet Langston Hughes.19

When Ellison won the National Book Award in 1953, he beat out one of his literary idols—Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea was also up for the award that year.20

In 1965, literary critic F.W. Dupree called Invisible Man a "veritable Moby Dick of the racial crisis."21

Ralph Ellison worked dozens of odd jobs during his early years in order to finance his writing career. In the 1920s, he and his brother hunted game and sold their kill in order to pull through the Great Depression. In the seven years he spent writing Invisible Man, Ellison also shot freelance photographs, built audio amplifiers, and installed sound systems.22

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