- Category : Writers-Playwright-script
- Type : ME
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Split - Small (22,48)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Uncertainty 1
American playwright, the author of "A Raisin in the Sun," the first play by a black woman to be produced on Broadway, running for 19 months. The comedy of a black family in Chicago who received a windfall of money, was wonderfully caustic and met with acclaim. Her second Broadway play, "The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window," October 1964, was produced three months before she died of cancer on 1/12/1965, New York, NY. A slim, articulate and cheerful woman, she delighted in skiing, cooking, and theater-going.
Hansberry was the youngest of four children of Nannie Hansberry and her husband Carl, a well-to-do real estate broker who fought a civil rights case on restricted covenants all the way to the Supreme Court. Though they moved to a white neighborhood when she was eight years old, she attended Chicago’s segregated half-day elementary schools. She graduated from high school in 1948 and was attracted to the theater, but also attended classes at the Art Institute of Chicago, where painting fascinated her. She attended the University of Wisconsin for two years, majoring in art, and later studied painting in Guadalajara, Mexico. Hansberry grew disenchanted with her painting ability, but literature and stage design lured her and she began to feel that the theater encompassed all of her likes.
Hansberry moved to New York in 1950 and worked briefly at odd jobs. One of them -waitress and cashier at a Greenwich Village restaurant - proved fortunate; on 6/20/1953, she married music publisher Robert Nemiroff, whose family owned the restaurant.
Her unpublished short stories and three unfinished plays were known only to her husband and some close friends, and in the fall of 1957, her play, "A Raisin in the Sun" began to develop. It opened on Broadway in 1959 to the delight of New York critics. The play won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award as the best American play of 1959. The film adaptation was released in 1961.
At the time of her death, Hansberry was working on several literary projects, including a study of Toussaint L’Ouverture and a play, "Les Blancs." Some years after her death, an off-Broadway presentation of her plays, journals and other writings was presented in January 1969 entitled "To Be Young, Gifted and Black."