Ralph Waldo Ellison (March 1, 1914 April 16, 1994) was an American author and essayist. Like most Black American writers during that time period, he was active in the Harlem literary scene, where he met his life-long best friend Richard Wright. Both would go on to become absolute giants of American literature.
Ellison is rather famously a One-Book Author. However, the one novel he did write — Invisible Man — was an award-winning masterpiece so incredibly successful and influential that Ellison outstripped most of his far more prolific colleagues in terms of celebrity. To this day, it is considered required reading in American literature curricula.
Ellison spent a great deal of his later career working on a second novel. However, he was never satisfied with it, and left behind a manuscript of over 2000 pages and a virtual tower of writing notes at the time of his death. About 4 years later, the unfinished manuscript was abridged and published as the novel Juneteenth, later republished as the 1100 page Door Stopper Three Days Before the Shooting...
In both his fiction and essays, Ellison is known for mixing a bitingly satirical tone with deeply contemplative storytelling, and most of his writing is highly biographical. His most famous work uses a very clear Author Avatar as a vector to criticize the failings of a variety of social institutions with which Ellison himself had personal experience.