A Playwright’s First Act
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Published in: July-August 2022 issue.



The Life Behind A Raisin in the Sun
by Charles J. Shields
Henry Holt & Co. 367 pages, $29.99



LORRAINE HANSBERRY (1930-1965) has experienced a revival of interest in recent years, with several biographies and collections of her interviews coming out. Charles J. Shields, author of a biography of Harper Lee, contributes to this trend with a carefully researched and highly readable life of the playwright, whose A Raisin in the Sun is still performed, read, and discussed more than sixty years after it opened on Broadway in 1959. The book examines aspects of Hansberry’s story not usually discussed at length, including her sexuality. Although married to songwriter and fellow activist Bob Nemiroff, Hansberry considered him more a friend and critic than a husband. He encouraged her play writing, read her drafts, and offered suggestions.

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Charles Green, a writer based in Annapolis, MD, is a frequent contributor to these pages.