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Biography Criticism Gwendolyn Brooks Gwendolyn Brooks was born to Keith Corine Wims and David Anderson Brooks on June 17, 1917 in Topeka, Kansas. Her family moved to their permanent residence on Champlin Avenue in Chicago when Brooks was four. Shortly after their move (at the age of seven), Brooks began rhyming and by the young age of thirteen she had her first poem published. She became a weekly contributor to the Chicago Defender and attended Wilson Junior College from which she graduated in 1936.
In 1937, when Brooks was twenty, her work appeared in two anthologies. Gwendolyn Brooks won her first major award in 1943 at the Midwestern Writers Conference. In addition to several other honorariums (among which two Guggenheim awards, her appointment as Poet Laureate of Illinois, and the National Endowment for the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award are most notable), Brooks was the first African-American writer to both win the Pulitzer Prize (1949) and to be appointed to the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1976). Brooks received more than fifty honorary doctorates from colleges and universities. In 1969, the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center opened on the campus of Western Illinois University. After a lifetime of proficient verse writing, Brooks died of cancer in December 2000.
She was 83 years old.
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