Rudolph Fisher (May 9, 1897 Washington, DC - December 26, 1934) was an African-American physician, radiologist, novelist, short story writer, dramatist, musician, and orator. Fisher's parents were John Wesley Fisher, a clergyman, and Glendora Williamson. Fisher had three children.
His first published work, "City of Refuge", appeared in the Atlantic Monthly of February 1925. He went on in 1932 to write The Conjure-Man Dies, the first novel with a black detective as well as the first detective novel with only black characters. Fisher was also a physician, dramatist, musician and orator. Fisher was an active participant in the Harlem Renaissance, primarily as a novelist, but also as a musician.
Born in Washington, DC in the late nineteenth century, Fisher grew up in Providence, Rhode Island graduating from Classical High School and attending Brown University. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Brown in 1919, where he delivered the valedictory address, and received a Master of Arts a year later. He went on to attend Howard University Medical School and graduated in 1924. He came to New York City in 1925 to take up a fellowship at College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, during which time he published two scientific articles of his research on treating bacteriophage viruses with ultraviolet light. Fisher married Jane Ryder in 1925, and they had one son, Hugh, who was born in 1926. After his fellowship ended, he had a private practice on Long Island. In 1930, Fisher became superintendent of International Hospital, a black-owned private hospital on Seventh Avenue in Harlem, but the hospital went bankrupt in October 1931. Fisher died after unsuccessful abdominal surgery in 1934 at the age of 37.
- City of Refuge (1925)
- High Yaller (1925)
- The Walls of Jericho (1928), about black life in Harlem
- The Conjure-Man Dies (1932)
City of Refuge and another short story, Vestiges, were included in Alain Locke's anthology, The New Negro.
In 1991, an anthology of Fisher's short fiction, City of Refuge: The Collected Stories of Rudolph Fisher, was published by the University of Missouri Press.
"The rhythm persisted, the unfaltering common meter of blues, but the blueness itself, the sorrow, the despair, began to give way to hope."
- Stephen Robertson, Harlem's Hospitals, Digital Harlem Blog, June 1, 2010, accessed September 27, 2011
- Fisher's biography at the D.C. Library website at the Wayback Machine (archived September 27, 2007)
- Rudolph Fisher Newsletter — includes helpful research resources on the Harlem Renaissance as well as Fisher himself.
- Rudolph Fisher at Find-A-Grave