James Weldon Johnson: The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

(647 words)
  • Robert E. Fleming (University of New Mexico)

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912) is James Weldon Johnson's only novel. First published anonymously by a small Boston publisher, the book was acknowledged by Johnson when it was reissued by a major publisher in 1927, during the Harlem Renaissance. It influenced the form and content of later African American novels by authors ranging from Johnson's contemporaries to mid-century novelists such as James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison.

Based loosely on the experiences of a boyhood friend who had passed for white, The Autobiography, as first published, purported to be the anonymous autobiography of a man who was the illegitimate son of an African American mother and a white father. The nameless protagonist is …

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Citation:
Fleming, Robert E.. "The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 October 2002
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=1546, accessed 16 April 2014.]