Heard, Nathan C(liff) 1936-2004

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HEARD, Nathan C(liff) 1936-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born November 7, 1936, in Newark, NJ; died of complications from Parkinson's disease March 16, 2004, in Newark, NJ. Educator, journalist, and author. Heard was a novelist best known for his stories about life on the tough streets of Newark. Originally having ambitions of being a baseball player, Heard was a high school dropout when he ran into trouble with the law and was imprisoned for eight years for armed robbery and parole violation. While serving his time at the New Jersey State Prison, boredom led him to books. He read the works of such authors as Richard Wright, James Baldwin, and Norman Mailer; he also read pulp novels. Convincing himself that he could do better than the pulps, he penned his first novel, Howard Street (1968), while still in prison. The book became a bestseller, earning Heard an income that sustained him for ten years. His writing also led to jobs as a columnist and writing speeches for Newark mayor Kenneth A. Gibson; and he taught creative writing at Fresno State College for a year and was an assistant professor of English at Rutgers University from 1970 to 1972. Other novels followed his debut, including To Reach a Dream (1972), A Cold Fire Burning (1974), When Shadows Fall (1977), and The House of Slammers (1983). In addition to these pursuits, Heard explored acting, taking on roles in such films as 1973's Gordon's War.



Chicago Tribune, March 23, 2004, Section 3, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, March 23, 2004, p. B13.

New York Times, March 23, 2004, p. A20.

Washington Post, March 22, 2004, p. B6.