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Delany, Samuel Ray, Jr. (1942- )

Samuel R. Delany, Jr., “Chip,” is an award-winning African American gaywriter, editor, professor, and literary critic. He is the first major AfricanAmerican science fiction writer as well as one of the most influential writersof this genre in the United States.  Hetransformed the field in the 1960s and 1970s with daring and visionary novels.  He has published over 40 works.

Delany was born on April 1, 1942 in Manhattan, New York.  An only child, he grew up in Harlem.  His father, Samuel Ray Delany, Sr., fromRaleigh, North Carolina, owned the Levy & Delany Funeral Home.  His mother, Margaret Carey Boyd Delany, was a SeniorClerk at the New York Public Library.  Theylived above the mortuary.  His paternalgrandfather was Bishop Henry Beard Delany, the first black Bishop of theEpiscopal Church.

When Samuel was five years old, his mother accompanied him to the Vassar SummerInstitute for the Gifted.  He wasaccepted to the Dalton School, an elite, primarily white prep school and laterattended the Bronx High School of Science.  He enrolled in the City College of New Yorkbut did not earn a degree.  Throughouthis life, he has experienced extreme dyslexia affecting his writing but not hisreading.  He received intensive tutoringand therapy for this from age eight to 16.

Delany married poet Marilyn Hacker in 1961.  She knew about him being gay and they had aopen marriage.  The couple had one childin 1974, Iva Hacker-Delany, before divorcing in 1980.  Throughout his adult life, New York City has remainedDelany’s primary residence despite times of extended travel.  He met his current, nonexclusive partnerDennis Rickett in 1991.  Delany beganholding a series of university faculty appointments in the 1980s but has had apermanent post teaching English at Temple University since 2001.

Delany wrote his first novel when he was 20, The Jewels of Aptor (1962).  It,and much of his fiction, combines mythology, linguistics, and deconstructedgender politics.  His writing alsoincludes a frank treatment of sex.  Heworked on the Wonder

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