Ralph Ellison (March 1, 1914 - April 16, 1994) has the distinction of being one of the few writers who has established a firm literary reputation on the strength of a single work of long fiction. Writer and teacher, Ralph Ellison was born in Oklahoma City, studied at Tuskegee Institute, and has lectured at New York, Columbia, and Fisk universities and at Bard College. He received the Prix de Rome from the Academy of Arts and Letters in 1955, and in 1964 he was elected a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He has contributed short stories and essays to various publications. Invisible Man (1952), his first novel, won the National Book Award for 1953 and is considered an impressive work. It is a vision of the underground man who is also the invisible African American, and its possessor has employed this subterranean view and viewer to so extraordinary an advantage that the impression of the novel is that of a pioneer work. A book of essays, Shadow and Act, which discusses the African American in America and Ellison's Oklahoma boyhood, among other topics, appeared in 1964. Ralph Ellison died on April 16, 1994 of pancreatic cancer and was interred in a crypt at Trinity Church Cemetery in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan.
Saul Bellow was born in Lachine, Quebec, Canada on June 10, 1915. He attended the University of Chicago, received a Bachelor's degree in sociology and anthropology from Northwestern University in 1937, and did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin. He taught at several universities including the University of Minnesota, Princeton University, the University of Chicago, New York University, and Boston University. His first novel, Dangling Man, was published in 1944. His other works include The Victim, Seize the Day, Henderson the Rain King, Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories, To Jerusalem and Back: A Personal Account, Him with His Foot in His Mouth and Other Stories, More Die of Heartbreak, and Something to Remember Me By. He received numerous awards including the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Humboldt's Gift, the 1976 Nobel Prize in Literature, and three National Book Awards for fiction for The Adventures of Augie March in 1954, Herzog in 1964, and Mr. Sammler's Planet in 1970. Also a playwright, he wrote The Last Analysis and three short plays, collectively entitled Under the Weather, which were produced on Broadway in 1966. He died on April 5, 2005.