A new biography about playwright Lorraine Hansberry is heading to bookshelves next year. Charles J. Shields’s Lorraine Hansberry: The Life Behind A Raisin in the Sun will be published January 18, 2022, from Henry Holt & Co.
Shields paints a picture of the artist using unpublished interviews with figures in theatre and politics, private correspondence, and independent research. His work will explore, beyond her career as a playwright, the influence of her upper-class background, her fight for peace and nuclear disarmament, the reason why she embraced Communism during the Cold War, her marriage to and professional partnership with Robert B. Nemiroff, and more.
Hansberry’s seminal work A Raisin in the Sun premiered on Broadway in 1959, becoming the first play by a Black woman to be performed on the Main Stem. Her other works include Les Blancs and The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window. The writer died in 1964 from cancer at the age of 34. Despite her short life, Hansberry left behind a long legacy of work that continues to inspire the examination of issues around class, racism, and sexism.
Shields’s other biographies include Mockingbird, about Harper Lee, and And So It Goes, about Kurt Vonnegut biography.