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August Wilson

August Wilson , original name Frederick August Kittel (born April 27, 1945, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.—died October 2, 2005, Seattle, Washington), American playwright, author of a cycle of plays, each set in a different decade of the 20th century, about black American life. He won Pulitzer Prizes for two of them: Fences and The Piano Lesson.

Wilson grew up in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, a lively poor neighbourhood that became the setting for most of his plays. Together with five siblings, he was raised by his mother, Daisy Wilson, after his father, Frederick August Kittel, left her and their children. Daisy Wilson later remarried, and in 1958 the family moved to a suburb of Pittsburgh.

The complexity of Wilson’s experience of race while growing up would be expressed in his plays. His mother was black, his father white, and his stepfather, David Bedford, black. The Hill District was mostly black, and the suburb, Hazelwood, was predominately white. Wilson and his family were the target of racial threats in Hazelwood, and he quit school at age 15 after being accused of having plagiarized a paper. He turned to self-education, reading intensively in a public library and returning to the Hill District to learn from residents there. He changed his last name from Kittel to Wilson, and in the late 1960s he embraced the Black Arts movement. In 1968 he became the cofounder and director of Black Horizons Theatre in Pittsburgh. He also published poetry in such journals as Black World (1971) and Black Lines (1972).

In 1978 Wilson moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, and in the early 1980s he wrote several plays, including Jitney, which was first produced in 1982. Focused on cab drivers in the 1970s, it underwent subsequent revisions as part of his historical cycle; it was published in 2000. His first major play, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, opened on Broadway in 1984 and was a critical and financial success. Set in Chicago in 1927, the play centres on a verbally abusive blues singer, her fellow black musicians, and their