Sherley Anne Williams

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Sherley Anne Williams (August 25, 1944 – July 6, 1999) was an African-American poet, novelist, professor and social critic. Many of her works tell stories about her life in the African-American community.


Williams was born in Bakersfield, California. When she was little her family picked cotton in order to get money. At the age of eight her father died of tuberculosis and when she was sixteen her mother died. In 1966 she earned her bachelor's degree in English at what is now California State University at Fresno and she received her master's degree at Brown University in 1972. The following year (1973) she became a professor of English Literature at the University of California at San Diego. She traveled to Ghana under a 1984 Fulbright grant.[1] Her works include collections of poetry such as The Peacock Poems (1975), the novel Dessa Rose (1986), and two picture books. She also published the groundbreaking work Give Birth to Brightness: A Thematic Study of Neo-Black Literature in 1972.



  • Dessa Rose (1986)
  • Working Cotton (1992)
  • Girls Together (1999)


  • The Peacock Poems (1975)
  • Someone Sweet Angel Chile (1982)


  • Giving Birth to Brightness: A Thematic Study in Neo-Black Literature (1972)

Further reading[edit]

  • Davis, Mary Kemp. "Everybody Knows Her Name: The Recovery of the Past in Sherley Anne Williams's Dessa Rose", Callaloo 12.3 (Summer 1989), pp. 544–558.
  • Draper, James P. "Sherley Anne Williams", Black Literature Criticism: Excerpts from Criticism of the Most Significant Works of Black Authors Over the Past 200 Years, Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale Research, 1992, pp. 1950–1961.
  • Shirley M. Jordan, "Sherley Anne Williams", in Black Women Writers At Work, ed. Claudia Tate, New York: Continuum, 1983, pp. 205–213.
  • Nagel, Carol De Kane. "Sherley Anne Williams", African American Biography. Detroit: Gale Research, 1994, pp. 787–789.


  1. ^ Mildred E. Mickle, "Williams, Sherley Anne", in William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster & Trudier Harris (eds), Oxford Companion to African American Literature, New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

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