|James Baldwin was born to an unwed mother who eventually married David Baldwin, an embittered New Orleans preacher; he became the model for Gabriel Grimes in GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN. James cared for his seven siblings, which may have protected him from the realities of the Harlem streets of the 1930s. Instead of hanging out on the streets, James read: everything from Harriet Beecher Stowe's UNCLE TOM'S CABIN to Charles Dickens and Horatio Alger. Because of his keen intelligence, he found himself the target of bullying at school, but it also gave him a direction. He joined Countee Cullen's literary club, became the editor of the school's newspaper, and managed to go to De Witt Clinton High School, where he was exposed to stimulating ideas. Upon graduation, Baldwin took a job to help support his family. Deciding to become a writer, he moved from Harlem to Greenwich Village. There he met the author Richard Wright, who awarded him a fellowship. In 1948, Baldwin left America for Paris, where race was less important and where he felt more free to express himself fully. James Baldwin eventually wrote 15 books and co-authored four others, but at the early rejections of his first novel devastated him and started him off on a lifetime of heavy drinking. The strain of being both black and homosexual in a world dominated by white heterosexuals led Baldwin to spend much of his time in Paris, where he lived a penniless bohemian life for years until his books became successful. He became friends with Truman Capote, Saul Bellow, and Jean Genet, though a rift developed in his friendship with Richard Wright and he began a rivalry with Norman Mailer. Deeply committed to the cause of civil rights, Baldwin settled permanently in France in 1970. His works profoundly altered the social and literary consciousness of America. He was the recipient of a Partisan Review fellowship, a National Institute of Arts and Letters award, and a Guggenheim fellowship.