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Charles R. Johnson

Charles R. Johnson Charles R. Johnson[1†]

Charles Richard Johnson, born on April 23, 1948, is an American author and scholar known for his novels, short stories, screenplays, and essays, often with a philosophical focus. His notable works, such as “Dreamer” and "Middle Passage", address issues of black life in America. Born in Evanston, Illinois, he spent much of his career at the University of Washington in Seattle. Initially recognized as a political cartoonist in the 1960s, his novel “Middle Passage” won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1991[1†][2†][3†].

Early Years and Education

Charles Richard Johnson was born on April 23, 1948, in Evanston, Illinois[1†][5†]. Both of his parents had immigrated from the South, specifically Georgia and North Carolina[1†][5†]. Johnson’s mother, an only child (as is Johnson himself), had wanted to be a schoolteacher but could not because of severe asthma. She read widely, sharing her love of books with her son. The two often discussed the books they read[1†][5†]. Johnson’s father’s education was cut short by the Great Depression, a time when all able-bodied males worked in the fields. Later, he worked with his brother, who was an Evanston general contractor[1†][5†].

Johnson has described his early years as a “benign upbringing” in a progressive town of unlocked doors. Evanston schools were integrated, and Johnson did not encounter serious racism[1†][5†]. His first short stories, as well as many of his cartoons, were published at Evanston Township High School, then one of the best in the country[1†][5†]. While there, Johnson began to work with Laurence Lariar, a cartoonist and mystery writer[1†][5†]. From 1965 to 1973, Johnson sold more than one thousand drawings to major magazines[1†][5†][6†].

After high school graduation, Johnson registered at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale as a journalism major (with a compelling interest in philosophy)[1†][5†][6†]. His continuing study of martial arts and Buddhism began in 1967[1†][5†]. A cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune in the period 1969-1970, Johnson also wrote and hosted fifty-two fifteen-minute episodes of Charlie’s Pad, a how-to show on cartooning, that aired on the stations of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in 1970[1†][5†].

During his senior year in college, Johnson began writing novels. With his background in journalism (B.S., 1971), he saw no problem with allotting two or three months for each novel[1†][5†]. From 1970 to 1972, Johnson wrote six novels, but he chose not to publish them after he met novelist and poet John Gardner[1†][5†]. Impressed by Gardner’s insistence on “moral fiction” and his dedication to craft, Johnson wrote his seventh novel, Faith and the Good Thing, under Gardner’s tutelage[1†][5†].

In 1973, Johnson was awarded his master’s degree in philosophy from Southern Illinois University[1†][5†]. Following three years of doctoral work at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Johnson began teaching at the University of Washington as well as serving as fiction editor of the Seattle Review[1†][5†].

Career Development and Achievements

Charles R. Johnson first came to prominence in the 1960s as a political cartoonist and illustrator[1†]. At the age of 15, he was a student of cartoonist/mystery writer Lawrence Lariar[1†]. After a two-year correspondence course with Lariar, Johnson began publishing his artwork professionally in 1965[1†]. He drew illustrations for the catalog of a magic company in Chicago, and published three stories in his high school’s newspaper[1†]. He continued drawing and publishing prolifically during his years as an undergraduate journalism major at Southern Illinois University[1†].

Inspired by a lecture he heard in 1969 by Amiri Baraka (né Leroi Jones), Johnson drew the collection of racial satire titled “Black Humor” (Chicago: Johnson Publishing Company, 1970)[1†]. He also wrote and hosted fifty-two fifteen-minute episodes of “Charlie’s Pad,” a how-to show on cartooning, that aired on the stations of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in 1970[1†].

During his senior year in college, Johnson began writing novels[1†][7†]. From 1970 to 1972, Johnson wrote six novels, but he chose not to publish them after he met novelist and poet John Gardner[1†][7†]. Impressed by Gardner’s insistence on “moral fiction” and his dedication to craft, Johnson wrote his seventh novel, “Faith and the Good Thing,” under Gardner’s tutelage[1†][7†].

In 1973, Johnson was awarded his master’s degree in philosophy from Southern Illinois University[1†][7†]. Following three years of doctoral work at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Johnson began teaching at the University of Washington as well as serving as fiction editor of the Seattle Review[1†][7†].

Johnson’s novel “Middle Passage” won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1991[1†][8†]. His work often carries a philosophical orientation[1†]. Johnson has directly addressed the issues of black life in America in novels such as “Dreamer” and "Middle Passage"[1†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Charles R. Johnson is a prolific author, with a body of work that spans various genres and forms[1†]. His works often explore themes of race, culture, and identity, and they have been recognized for their depth and insight[1†].

Here are some of his notable works:

Each of these works showcases Johnson’s skill as a writer and his deep engagement with the themes he explores[1†]. His works have left a significant impact on American literature[1†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Charles R. Johnson’s work, particularly in the field of matrix analysis, has had a significant impact on the mathematical community[10†][8†][11†][12†]. His books, “Matrix Analysis” and “Topics in Matrix Analysis”, co-written with Roger Horn, are considered standard texts in advanced linear algebra[10†][8†]. These works present results of both classic and recent matrix analysis using canonical forms as a unifying theme, demonstrating their importance in a variety of applications[10†][11†].

Johnson’s approach to linear algebra is characterized by a deep understanding of the subject matter, a clear and accessible presentation style, and a commitment to practical applications[10†][8†][11†][12†]. His work has helped to shape the field of matrix analysis and has influenced a generation of researchers and students[10†][8†][11†][12†].

In addition to his contributions to matrix analysis, Johnson has also made significant contributions to other areas of mathematics[10†][8†]. His work is characterized by a broad range of interests and a commitment to rigorous analysis[10†][8†].

Overall, Charles R. Johnson’s work stands as a testament to the power of rigorous mathematical analysis and the importance of clear, accessible presentation[10†][8†][11†][12†]. His contributions to the field of matrix analysis and beyond have left a lasting legacy[10†][8†][11†][12†].

Personal Life

Charles R. Johnson was born on April 23, 1948, in Evanston, Illinois[1†][6†]. He is the son of Benjamin Lee and Ruby Elizabeth (Jackson) Johnson[1†][13†]. In June 1970, he married Joan New, a teacher[1†][13†]. Together, they have two children: Malik and Elizabeth[1†][13†].

Johnson’s personal life has been marked by a deep commitment to his craft and a strong sense of social responsibility. His work as a political cartoonist and illustrator began at a young age, with his first professional work published when he was just 15 years old[1†]. This early start set the stage for a career marked by a dedication to exploring and illuminating the African American experience[1†].

In addition to his professional achievements, Johnson has also been recognized for his contributions to his community. He has received numerous awards and honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship[1†][6†].

Despite his many accomplishments, Johnson’s life has not been without challenges. Like many individuals, he has faced personal struggles and obstacles. However, he has consistently demonstrated resilience and determination, using these experiences to inform and enrich his work[1†][6†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Charles R. Johnson’s work has left an indelible mark on American literature and culture[1†][13†]. His novels, short stories, screen-and-teleplays, and essays have not only entertained and enlightened readers but have also provided a profound exploration of the African American experience[1†][13†].

Johnson’s unique blend of historical accuracy, parable, and elements of the fantastic in rendering the experience of African Americans has been recognized and celebrated[1†]. His novel “Middle Passage” won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1991, making him the first black man to win the award since Ralph Ellison won in 1953 for "Invisible Man"[1†][13†].

Beyond his literary achievements, Johnson has also made significant contributions to academia and the arts. His work as a political cartoonist and illustrator has been influential, and his teachings have inspired a new generation of writers and thinkers[1†][13†].

Johnson’s legacy is not only found in his own works but also in the impact he has had on others. His writings have inspired and influenced countless readers, writers, and scholars. His commitment to exploring and illuminating the African American experience has enriched American literature and contributed to a greater understanding and appreciation of this important aspect of American history[1†][13†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - Charles R. Johnson [website] - link
  2. Unknwon error - link
  3. Goodreads - Author: Charles R. Johnson (Author of Middle Passage) [website] - link
  4. African American Literature Book Club - Charles Richard Johnson, novelist, short story writer, essayist, and cartoonist. ★ [website] - link
  5. eNotes - Charles Johnson Biography [website] - link
  6. CelebsAges - Charles R. Johnson [website] - link
  7. Britannica - Charles R. Johnson: American author [website] - link
  8. Wikipedia (English) - Charles Royal Johnson [website] - link
  9. Goodreads - Book: Middle Passage [website] - link
  10. Cambridge University Press - Matrix analysis 2nd edition [website] - link
  11. Google Books - Matrix Analysis - Roger A. Horn, Charles R. Johnson [website] - link
  12. Cambridge University Press - Matrix Analysis [website] - link
  13. Encyclopedia.com - Johnson, Charles R. 1948— [website] - link
  14. Wikipedia (English) - Middle Passage (novel) [website] - link
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