November 19, 1911
June 17, 1986
Novelist William Alexander Attaway was born in Greenville, Mississippi, to William Attaway, a physician, and Florence Parry Attaway, a schoolteacher, and was raised in Chicago. He attended local public schools and the University of Illinois, where he pursued literary interests. His father died during his second year in college and Attaway left school to hobo his way west, working along the way as a cabin boy, stevedore, and migrant laborer. He returned to Chicago and the university in 1933; there he published his first literary efforts. During this period Attaway became involved with the Illinois branch of the Federal Writers' Project and first met Richard Wright.
After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1936, Attaway moved to New York City, determined to earn his living as a writer. With the assistance of his younger sister, Ruth, an actress, he won a role in the road company of You Can't Take It with You. He was on tour with the play when he learned that his first novel, Let Me Breathe Thunder (1939), a naturalistic novel about the experiences of two white migrant farmworkers, had been accepted for publication.
Blood on the Forge (1941), Attaway's second and most significant novel, encapsulates the mass migration of southern blacks to northern cities as it traces the experiences of three half-brothers in the steel mills of Pennsylvania. Although Blood on the Forge received favorable reviews, the novel was not a success in the literary marketplace—overshadowed, perhaps, by the triumph of Richard Wright, whose novel Native Son had become a best seller the previous year. Blood on the Forge was the high point of Attaway's literary career. In his later years, he wrote for radio, film, and television; developed a deep interest in Caribbean and U.S. folk music; and published two works, The Calypso Song Book (1957) and Hear America Singing (1967). He spent the last years of his life in Los Angeles and died in relative obscurity.
Bell, Bernard W. The Afro-American Novel and Its Tradition. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1987.
Yarborough, Richard. "Afterword." In Blood on the Forge, by William Attaway. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1987.
james a. miller (1996)
"Attaway, William." Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 24, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/attaway-william
"Attaway, William." Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. . Retrieved September 24, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/attaway-william
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.