Nelson Algren was a writer, novelist, columnist, and educator. He was born Nelson Algren Abraham on March 28, 1909 in Detroit, Michigan. Algren graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in journalism in 1931. After graduation, Algren worked as a door-to-door salesman and a migratory worker. He also worked for a venereal disease control unit of the Board of Health and with the WPA writers' project. Algren served as a medical corpsman in the U.S. Army during World War II. Later, he served as co-editor of the magazine The New Anvil. Algren taught creative writing at the University of Iowa and the University of Florida. He also wrote a regular column for the Chicago Free Press. Algren's first novel, Somebody in Boots, was published in 1935. His second novel, Never Come Morning, was published in 1942. The book was banned from the Chicago Public Library. Algren received a 1947 Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a grant from Chicago's Newberry Library. In 1949, Algren published The Man with the Golden Arm. The book won the National Book Award and was adapted as a film in 1956. Another book, A Walk on the Wild Side, was also adapted for film in 1962. Algren died in Sag Harbor, New York, on May 9, 1981.
The oldest of four children, Russell Banks spent his childhood and adolescence in New Hampshire and Eastern Massachusetts. His blue collar, working class background is strongly reflected in his writing. The first in his family to attend college, Banks studied at Colgate University and later graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill. While he was establishing himself as a writer, Banks spent time as a plumber, shoe salesman, and a window dresser. Banks's titles include Searching for Survivors, Family Life, Hamilton Stark, The New World, The Book of Jamaica, Trailerpark, The Relation of My Imprisonment, Continental Drift, Success Stories, Affliction and The Sweet Hereafter. Banks has also written numerous poems, stories, and essays. Banks is the recipient of several awards and prizes. Among his accolades are the St. Lawrence Award for Short Fiction, the John Dos Passos Award, and the Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1986, Continental Drift was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Banks is married to the poet Chase Twitchel.