James Arthur Baldwin was born in New York City’s Harlem Hospital on August 2, 1924, to Emma Berdis Jones; his father was unknown. Jones came to New York from Maryland and worked as a domestic, seeking a better life in the “Promised Land” of the North like many other southern African Americans. When James was two, she married David Baldwin, an older preacher, whom she bore eight more children. Young Jimmy become skilled in childcare and would help support them throughout his life. David Baldwin’s mother, Barbara, had been a slave in New Orleans, and bore fourteen children of black and white ancestry. She spent her last years with the family and deeply impressed Jimmy. Baldwin senior worked as a laborer but could not lift his …

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Citation: Zaborowska, Magdalena J.. "James Baldwin". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 October 2002 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=229, accessed 28 September 2023.]

229 James Baldwin 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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