“In the life of everyone there is a limited number of experiences which are not written upon the memory, but stamped there with a die; and in the long years after, they can be called up in detail, and every emotion that was stirred by them can be lived through anew; these are the tragedies of life.”
James Weldon Johnson, a contemporary of W.E.B. Du Bois, bridged several historical trends and literary genres as a novelist, poet, journalist, autobiographer, and critic. Born in 1871, Johnson served as the field secretary in the NAACP, a professor, and a member of the Harlem Renaissance. Although a prolific poet and editor, he is best known for his only novel, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, which he published anonymously in 1912. The public response to this work of fiction inspired him to write his own autobiography over twenty years later.
Johnson kept a house and writing cabin in Great Barrington, both of which are now privately owned, and is reported to have written at a desk in the town's historic Mason Library.