He discussed this passion in a December 1955 essay, "Living With Music," in High Fidelity magazine.
He discussed this passion in a December 1955 essay, "Living With Music," in High Fidelity magazine.He met several artists who would influence his later life, including the artist Romare Bearden and the author Richard Wright (with whom he would have a long and complicated relationship).While he studied music primarily in his classes, he spent his free time in the library with modernist classics.
A posthumous novel, Juneteenth, was published after being assembled from voluminous notes he left after his death.
Ralph Waldo Ellison, named after Ralph Waldo Emerson, was born at 407 East First Street in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Lewis Alfred Ellison and Ida Millsap, on Saturday March 1, 1913. Ellison was admitted to Tuskegee Institute in 1933 for lack of a trumpet player in its orchestra.
However, the family life was precarious, and Ralph worked various jobs during his youth and teens to assist with family support.
While attending Douglass High School, he also found time to play on the school's football team. He worked for a year, and found the money to make a down payment on a trumpet, using it to play with local musicians, and to take further music lessons. Ellison's outsider position at Tuskegee "sharpened his satirical lens," critic Hilton Als believes: "Standing apart from the university's air of sanctimonious Negritude enabled him to write about it." In passages of Invisible Man, "he looks back with scorn and despair on the snivelling ethos that ruled at Tuskegee." headed by composer William L. Ellison also was guided by the department's piano instructor, Hazel Harrison. Eliot's The Waste Land as a major awakening moment.
At Douglass, he was influenced by principal Inman E. While he studied music primarily in his classes, he spent his free time in the library with modernist classics. A major influence upon Ellison was English teacher Morteza Drezel Sprague, to whom Ellison later dedicated his essay collection Shadow and Act.
He opened Ellison's eyes to "the possibilities of literature as a living art" and to "the glamour he would always associate with the literary life." As a child, Ellison evidenced what would become a lifelong interest in audio technology, starting by taking apart and rebuilding radios, and later moved on to constructing and customizing elaborate hi-fi stereo systems as an adult.
After Ellison wrote a book review for Wright, Wright encouraged him to write fiction as a career.
His first published story was "Hymie's Bull," inspired by Ellison's 1933 hoboing on a train with his uncle to get to Tuskegee.
In 1921, Ellison's mother and her children moved to Gary, Indiana, where she had a brother.
According to Ellison, his mother felt that "my brother and I would have a better chance of reaching manhood if we grew up in the north." When she did not find a job and her brother lost his, the family returned to Oklahoma, where Ellison worked as a busboy, a shoeshine boy, hotel waiter, and a dentist's assistant.