Artist Bios

Lorraine Hansberry

Lorraine Hansberry

Born in Chicago, Lorraine Hansberry became the first African American female playwright to have a work produced on Broadway with 1959’s  A Raisin in the Sun. The play’s success led Hansberry, at age 29, to become the youngest American playwright, the fifth woman and the only African American to win the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play of the Year. In addition to earning a Tony Award nomination for the play, Hansberry wrote the screenplay for its 1961 film adaptation, which won a special award at the Cannes Film Festival and earned Hansberry a Writers Guild of America Award. Her second play to be produced on Broadway, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, was in its early run when Hansberry died of cancer at age 34 in 1965.  To Be Young, Gifted and Black, an autobiographical portrait in her own words adapted by her former husband and literary executor Robert Nemiroff, was posthumously produced in 1969. In 1970, Les Blancs, her play about African colonization, ran on Broadway to critical acclaim. During her career as a playwright, Hansberry wrote many articles and essays on literary criticism, racism, sexism, homophobia, world peace and other social and political issues. At her death, she left behind file cabinets holding her public and private correspondence, speeches, journals and various manuscripts including an almost complete novel. Her published writings also include The Drinking Gourd, What Use Are Flowers? and The Movement, a photo history of the civil rights movement