Lorraine Hansberry: The Life Behind a Raisin in the Sun (A Program with Author Charles J. Shields)

We are so happy to partner with Macmillan publishing and our sister Chicago indie bookstores to present acclaimed biographer Charles J. Shields, the author of Mockingbird, the bestselling biography of Harper Lee, as he discusses his new book, Lorraine Hansberry: The Life Behind a Raisin in the Sun.  Mr. Shields will be in conversation with Alison Cuddy. This program is free and open to the public. We ask that attendees do us the courtesy of purchasing their copy of the book from The Book Stall or another participating bookstore. Click HERE to register!

About the Book: Written when she was just twenty-eight, Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark A Raisin in the Sun is listed by the National Theatre as one of the hundred most significant works of the twentieth century. Hansberry was the first Black woman to have a play performed on Broadway, and the first Black and youngest American playwright to win a New York Critics’ Circle Award.

Charles J. Shields’s authoritative biography of one of the twentieth century’s most admired playwrights examines the parts of Lorraine Hansberry’s life that have escaped public knowledge: the influence of her upper-class background, her fight for peace and nuclear disarmament, the reason why she embraced Communism during the Cold War, and her dependence on her white husband—her best friend, critic, and promoter. Many of the identity issues about class, sexuality, and race that she struggled with are relevant and urgent today.

This dramatic telling of a passionate life—a very American life through self-reinvention—uses previously unpublished interviews with close friends in politics and theater, privately held correspondence, and deep research to reconcile old mysteries and raise new questions about a life not fully described until now.

“Drawing on meticulously researched sources, including previously unpublished interviews and private correspondence, Shields offers an illuminating portrait of Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) and her tragically brief but formidable career…A revealing and rewarding biography documenting the life, work, and historical relevance of a great American author.”  Kirkus Reviews, *starred review*

About the Author: Charles J. Shields is the author of Harper Lee's New York Times bestselling biography Mockingbird, the Kurt Vonnegut biography And So It Goes, and the biography of John Edward Williams, The Man Who Wrote the Perfect Novel. Shields has spoken to hundreds of large audiences in schools, libraries, museums, and historic theaters and appeared in newspapers and magazines worldwide, including the Wall Street JournalNew YorkerHuffington Post, and New York Times.

About the InterlocutorAlison Cuddy is a Chicago-based curator, writer and cultural producer. She has extensive experience developing programs for diverse audiences including 8 years leading the creative direction of the Chicago Humanities Festival and more than a decade at Chicago’s NPR affiliate WBEZ, where she hosted the award-winning flagship program, Eight Forty-Eight.

Event date: 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Event address: 

Online Crowdcast event!
Lorraine Hansberry: The Life Behind A Raisin in the Sun Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250205537
Availability: On Our Shelves Now--Subject to Availability
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - January 18th, 2022

The moving story of the life of the woman behind A Raisin in the Sun, the most widely anthologized, read, and performed play of the American stage, by the New York Times bestselling author of Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee