Lawrence Jackson

I couldn’t stop myself from wondering about my ancestors, about what they must have done and known to survive, and about the human beings who crowded their world and profoundly shaped the possibilities of their lives. I thought that with some sweat and some luck, I might reach my family’s last generation in slavery. It seemed like the right thing to do.

pen/bogard weld prize for biography finalist

NAACP Image Award Finalist

American Library Association Award for Non-fiction


LJ Photo 2018.JPG



Dr. Jackson has presented a much needed view of an important Harlem writer. I had the pleasure of knowing Chester and most of the folk he knew...Chester Himes is to writing what Miles Davis is to the trumpet, what John Coltrane is to the saxophone, what lips are to love.
Nikki Giovanni on Chester Himes: A Biography
Chester B. Himes is a bracing journey through the life of an uncompromising writer.
The New York Times Book Review

Lawrence Jackson is the award-winning author of Chester B. Himes: A Biography  (W.W. Norton 2017), a finalist for the PEN/Bogard Weld Prize for Biography,  the NAACP Image Award, and the Edgar Award for Biography.  A native of Baltimore, Jackson is a prominent historian known for his scholarship on African-American culture and literature.

In addition to his highly praised biography of Himes,  Jackson has written numerous books that explore African-American narratives: My Father’s Name: A Black Virginia Family after the Civil War (Chicago 2012), The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics (Princeton 2010) and Ralph Ellison: Emergence of Genius, 1913-1952 (Wiley 2002).

The Indignant Generation won the 2011 William Sanders Scarborough Prize from the Modern Language Association and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association 2012 award for non-fiction.  Harper’s Magazine, N+1, Los Angeles Review of Books, Baltimore Magazine, New England Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, Antioch Review, Washington Post, American Literature, American Literary History and Best American Essays have published his criticism and non-fiction.

Professor Jackson earned a PhD in English and American literature at Stanford University, and has held fellowships from the National Humanities Center, the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University, the Stanford Humanities Center, the Ford Foundation, and the William J. Fulbright program at the Council for International Exchange of Scholars.  He began his teaching career at Howard University in 1997 and he is now Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of English and History at Johns Hopkins University, where he founded the Billie Holiday Project for Liberation Arts.  His forthcoming book is called Christmas in Baltimore.



Open and right-click to download