Walter Mosley was born January 15, 1952, in Los Angeles, California. His father, Leroy Mosley, was a custodian at a public school and of African descent. His mother, Ella Mosley was a personnel clerk and of Polish-Jewish descent. When young Walter was 12, the family moved from Watts to West Los Angeles. During those years, Mosley began to write.
During his late teens and early twenties, Mosley traveled from Santa Cruz to Europe. He then attended Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. Once he graduated with a Political Science degree in 1979, he then began a doctoral program in political theory. He switched his career field, however, to focus on computer programming.
In 1981, Mosley set out to New York City. There, he worked for Mobile Oil. Simultaneously, he took courses at City College in Harlem. As his father had during his formative years, his instructor, Edna O’Brien, influenced him to pursue a career in literature. That same year, he met his future wife, Joy Kellman.
Devil in a Blue Dress
In 1986, Mosley embarked on his writing career. In 1990, his first major novel, Devil in a Blue Dress, was published. This novel was later adapted into a film starring Denzel Washington as Easy Rawlins. Rawlins, a Black private detective in 1940s Los Angeles, served as the main character for 11 of Mosley’s mystery novels.
Other Written Works
Although best known for his mystery novels, Mosley has also written in other genres. He has written erotica, science fiction, and children’s books. In 2005, he wrote Maximum Fantastic Four, which was based on Marvel’s Fantastic Four comic books. He has written over 30 critically acclaimed works and his work has been translated into 21 different languages.
Mosley has received the American Library Association’s Literary Award and the PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He won a Grammy for his musical score, Workin’ on the Chain Gang, and holds an honorary doctorate from the City College of New York. At the age of 66, Walter Mosley currently lives and writes in New York, serves on the Board of Trustees of Goddard College, and serves on the board of TransAfrica Forum.
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