August Wilson

Main

Born Frederick August Kittel in Pittsburgh

April 27, 1945

His father was a baker-- a German immigrant-- and his mother was an African American cleaning woman.

Learned to read at age 4

1951

Connelly Vocational School disappoints

1959

Wilson was the only African American student, and felt unchallenged and isolated.

Drops out of high school

1960

After his teacher accused him of stealing a 20 pg paper on Napoleon, Wilson left school. He hid his decision from his mother, fearing her disappointment.

Joins army

1962

Wilson committed for three years.

Leaves army early

1963

Wilson left the army, and returned to Pittsburgh to do odd jobs.

Father dies

1965

Instead of his father's surname, Wilson began using his mother's maiden name- -the one he would go on to write under.

Founded Black Horizon Theater

1968

Their first play was called "Recycling."

Married Brenda Burton

1969

Wilson converted to Islam in order to sustain his marriage to her.

Moves to St. Paul, Minnesota

1978

At the urging of a director friend, Claud Purdy, who tipped him off to a job writing educational scripts for a science museum.

Fellowship with Minneapolis Playwrights Center

1980

Writes "Jitney"

1982

The first installment of Wilson's Pittsburgh cycle, "Jitney," did not get as much attention as his later work.

Wrote "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"

1982

One of Wilson's Pittsburgh cycle, this play is one of Wilson's best-known.

Writes "Joe Turner's Come and Gone"

1984

The second of Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle, this play won a Tony.

Wrote "Fences"

1985

This play won Wilson a Pulitzer Prize.

August Wilson Day declared

May 27, 1987

St. Paul's mayor, George Latimer, honored August Wilson with a civic holiday.

Moved to Seattle

1990

The Seattle Repertory Theater would be the only theater company to produce all ten of the plays in his cycle.

Wrote "The Piano Lesson"

1990

Wilson's second Pulitzer Prize winner.

Board of Trustees for University of Pittsburgh

1992 - 1995

Died of liver cancer

October 5, 2002

Diagnosed earlier that year, Wilson died in Seattle.

Writes "Radio Golf"

2005

The final installment of the Pittsburgh cycle, this play was Wilson's final work, completed the year of his death.