William Braithwaite

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William Stanley Beaumont Braithwaite
William Braithwaite 1911.jpg
Braithwaite, c. 1911
Born December 6, 1878
Boston, Massachusetts
Died June 8, 1962(1962-06-08) (aged 83)
New York, New York
Spouse(s) Emma Kelly[1]
Children Fiona Rossetti Braithwaite (Carter), Katherine Keats Braithwaite (Arnold), Cayman Braithwaite (Agard). William Stanley Beaumont Braithwaite, Jr., Paul Ledoux Braithwaite, Arnold D. Braithwaite.[1]

William Stanley Beaumont Braithwaite (December 6, 1878 – June 8, 1962) was an American writer, poet and literary critic.


Braithwaite was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1878.[1] According to Jill Lepore, his father "came from a wealthy British Guiana family; his mother was the daughter of a North Carolina slave."[2] At the age of 12, upon the death of his father, Braithwaite was forced to quit school to support his family. When he was aged 15 he was apprenticed to a typesetter for the Boston publisher, Ginn & Co., where he discovered an affinity for lyric poetry and began to write his own poems.

From 1906 to 1931 he contributed to The Boston Evening Transcript,[3] eventually becoming its literary editor. He also wrote articles, reviews and poetry for many other periodicals and journals, including the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, and The New Republic.

In 1918 he was awarded the Spingarn Medal[1] by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

In 1935, Braithwaite assumed a professorship of creative literature at Atlanta University. He retired from Atlanta University in 1945.

In 1946, he and his wife Emma Kelly, along with their seven children, moved to Sugar Hill—a neighborhood in Harlem, New York—where Braithwaite continued to write and publish poetry, essays and anthologies. He died at his 409 Edgecombe Avenue home in Harlem after a brief illness on June 8, 1962.[1]

Braithwaite published three volumes of his own poetry:

  • Lyrics of Life and Love (1904)
  • The House of Falling Leaves (1908)
  • Selected Poems (1948)

Braithwaite edited numerous poetry anthologies over the course of his career. The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia holds 40 boxes of manuscripts, correspondence, and other related materials related mainly to this editorial work, in three separate Braithwaite collections.


  1. ^ a b c d e "William Braithwaite, 83, Dead; A Poet, Anthologist and Critic; Compiled Seventeen Volumes of 'Magazine Verse Won Spingarn Medal in 1918". The New York Times. June 9, 1962. p. 25. 
  2. ^ Jill Lepore, "Joe Gould's Teeth", The New Yorker, July 27, 2015 issue.
  3. ^ Biography from the NYPL Inventory of the William Stanley Braithwaite Papers, 1902–1976

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