William Gardner Smith
1927 – 1974
Who was William Gardner Smith?
William Gardner Smith was an American journalist, novelist, and editor. Smith is linked to the black social protest novel tradition of the 1940s and the 1950s, a movement that became synonymous with writers such as Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Willard Motley, and Ann Petry. His third book, South Street, is considered to be one of the first black militant protest novels. Smith's last published novel, The Stone Face, in its account of the Paris massacre of 1961, "stand[s] as one of the few representations of the event available".
Smith was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania of African American descent. After 1951, he maintained an expatriate status in France. However, due to his various journalistic and editorial assignments, he also lived for extended periods of time in Ghana. In the final decade of his life, Smith would travel to the United States to visit family and friends and write about the racial and social upheaval that was occurring there.
Some of Smith's journalism and reportage from this period was published in various media outlets in France and Europe. Some of it was revised, re-adapted, and published in Return To Black America in 1970.
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