George Wylie Henderson was born in Warriorstand, Ala. When he was young, his family moved to Wetumpka, Ala., where his father was a minister for a local church. In 1915, Henderson’s father became pastor of Butler Chapel AME Zion Church, and the family moved to Tuskegee, Ala. Henderson attended Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) and learned the printing trade there. He graduated from Tuskegee in 1922 and married soon afterward. In the late 1920s or early 1930s, Henderson and his family moved to New York City, where he worked as a linotype operator for the New York Daily News.
Henderson’s first published short story appeared in the Daily News as part of a series called “The Daily Story from Real Life.” He published nine stories in the Daily News in 1932 and 1933. Henderson expanded one of these stories, “Thy Name Is Woman,” to book length. His novel, Ollie Miss, was published in 1935 and was praised by critics. At this time, Henderson began publishing short stories in Redbook magazine. His second novel, Jule, was published in 1946. Jule was not well received, and Henderson published only one more short story after its publication. He did not stop writing, however. He was working on a third novel, Baby Lou and the Angel Bud, toward the end of his life. It was not completed before his death and has not been published.
George Wylie Henderson’s fiction is based in the American black experience in the first half of the twentieth century. Ollie Miss and many of his Daily News stories are based in Alabama, while Jule and his Redbook stories feature black characters who have recently migrated North from the rural South.
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Photo courtesy of the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts, Auburn University.
Last updated on Oct 10, 2009.