Arnold Rampersad

Arnold Rampersad (born 13 November 1941) is a biographer, literary critic, and academic, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago and moved to the US in 1965.[1] The first volume (1986) of his Life of Langston Hughes was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and his Ralph Ellison: A Biography was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award.[2]

Arnold Rampersad
Born (1941-11-13) 13 November 1941 (age 81)
Alma materBowling Green State University
Harvard University
OccupationsBiographer, literary critic, academic
Notable workThe Life of Langston Hughes (1986);
Ralph Ellison: A Biography (2007)
AwardsAnisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award

Rampersad is currently Professor of English and the Sara Hart Kimball Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University. He was Senior Associate Dean for the Humanities from January 2004 to August 2006.

Background and careerEdit

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Rampersad moved to the US in 1965.

He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a bachelor's degree and master's degree in English (1967 and 1968).[3] In 1973 he earned a Ph.D from Harvard University, his dissertation being subsequently published as the intellectual biography The Art and Imagination of W. E. B. Du Bois.[4]

He was a member of the Stanford University English Department from 1974 to 1983, before accepting a position at Rutgers University. Since then he taught there and at Columbia and Princeton, before returning to Stanford in 1998.

Rampersad's teaching covers such areas as 19th- and 20th-century American literature; the literature of the American South; American and African-American autobiography; race and American literature; and the Harlem Renaissance.

His published books include biographical works on W. E. B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Arthur Ashe, Jackie Robinson, Ralph Ellison, as well as edited volumes of writings by Richard Wright.


From 1991 to 1996, Rampersad held a MacArthur "Genius Grant" fellowship. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society.[5]

In 2007, his biography of Ralph Ellison (1914–1994), on which he had worked for eight years, was a nonfiction finalist for the National Book Award.[6]

In 2010, Rampersad was awarded the National Humanities Medal,[4] and in 2012 was the recipient of the BIO Award from Biographers International Organization.[7] Also in 2012, he won a Lifetime Achievement Prize from the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards.[8]

Personal lifeEdit

Rampersad is the half-brother of Roger Toussaint, the president of Transport Workers Union Local 100.[9]


  • The Art and Imagination of W. E. B. Du Bois (Harvard, 1976; reprint, with new introduction, Schocken, 1990)
  • The Life of Langston Hughes (Oxford, 2 volumes, 1986, 1988)
  • Days of Grace: A Memoir (Knopf, 1993), co-authored with Arthur Ashe
  • Jackie Robinson: A Biography (Knopf, 1997)
  • Ralph Ellison: A Biography (Knopf, 2007)

In addition, Rampersad has edited several volumes, including the following:


  1. ^ Edward Guthman, "ISOLATED MAN / Arnold Rampersad's biography examines how foibles and fame became powerful hurdles in the literary life of Ralph Ellison", SF Gate, 19 June 2007.
  2. ^ "National Book Awards - 2007". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  3. ^ "Stanford Professor a Visiting Scholar at BGSU", BGSU, 9 September 2005.
  4. ^ a b Randall Fuller. "Awards & Honors: 2010 National Humanities Medalist — Arnold Rampersad". National Endowment for the Humanities.
  5. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 16 December 2021.
  6. ^ Jennifer Gonnerman, "2007 National Book Award Nonfiction Finalist Interview With Arnold Rampersad" Archived 15 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine, National Book Foundation.
  7. ^ "The BIO Award". Biographers International Organization. Archived from the original on 22 May 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  8. ^ Tara Jefferson, "Biographer Arnold Rampersad Is The 2012 Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Winner", Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, 11 July 2012.
  9. ^ Sewell Chan, "TRANSIT NEGOTIATIONS: THE LEADER; Public Face of Union's Clash With Transit Management", The New York Times, 17 December 2005.

External linksEdit