August Wilson (April 27, 1945 – October 2, 2005) was an American playwright whose work included a series of ten plays, The Pittsburgh Cycle, for which he received two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama. Each work in the series is set in a different decade, and depicts comic and tragic aspects of the African-American experience in the 20th century.
Wilson was born Frederick August Kittel, Jr. in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the fourth of six children. His father, Frederick August Kittel, Sr., was a Sudeten German immigrant, who was a baker/pastry cook. His mother, Daisy Wilson, was an African-American cleaning woman, from North Carolina. Wilson"s anectodal history reports that his maternal grandmother walked from North Carolina to Pennsylvania in search of a better life. Wilson"s mother raised the children alone until he was five in a two-room apartment above a grocery store at 1727 Bedford Avenue; his father was mostly absent from his childhood. Wilson later wrote under his mother"s surname. The economically depressed neighborhood where he was raised was inhabited predominantly by black Americans and Jewish and Italian immigrants. Wilson"s mother divorced his father and married David Bedford in the 1950s, and the family moved from the Hill District to the then predominantly white working-class neighborhood of Hazelwood, where they encountered racial hostility; bricks were thrown through a window at their new home. They were soon forced out of their house and on to their next home.
In 1959, Wilson was one of fourteen African-American students at the Central Catholic High School, from which he dropped out after one year. He then attended Connelley Vocational High School, but found the curriculum unchallenging. He dropped out of Gladstone High School in the 10th grade in 1960 after his teacher accused him of plagiarizing a 20-page paper he wrote on Napoleon I of France. Wilson hid his decision from his mother because he did not want to disappoint her. At the age of 16 he began working menial