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Postal News: Prolific author Ralph Ellison honored on U.S. postage stamp

March 19, 2014
By KATHLEEN SWANSON , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The U.S. Postal Service released the 29th stamp in the Literary Arts series honoring author Ralph Ellison for First-Class Mail weighing up to three ounces.

Customers may purchase the 91-cent stamp at:, (800) STAMP24 (782-6724) and at post offices nationwide.

With his 1952 novel "Invisible Man," a masterpiece of 20th-century fiction, Ellison drew on a wide range of narrative and cultural traditions, shedding vivid light on the African-American experience while setting a new benchmark for all American novelists.

The stamp art is an oil-on-panel painting featuring a portrait of Ellison based on a black-and-white photograph by Ellison's friend Gordon Parks, a renowned staff photographer for Life magazine.

The photo appeared on the back of the dust jacket of the first edition of "Invisible Man" in 1952.

The background of the stamp art shows a Harlem street at twilight.

The artwork for the stamp was created by Kadir Nelson. Art director Ethel Kessler designed it.

Drawing deeply on European and American literature as well as jazz, the blues, African-American folklore and popular culture, "Invisible Man" won the National Book Award in 1953.

Ellison's nonfiction writing, especially the 1964 collection "Shadow and Act," has also been praised for providing touchstones for black artists who loved American culture but often felt excluded by it.

In 1985, Ellison received the National Medal of the Arts.

The following year, he published "Going to the Territory," a collection of his essays, articles and speeches from 1963 to 1983.

Focusing on literature, art and music, "Going to the Territory" includes tributes to author and friend Richard Wright, composer and bandleader Duke Ellington and artist Romare Bearden.

Ralph Ellison died in New York City on April 16, 1994.

Customers may view the Ralph Ellison stamp, as well as many of this year's other stamps, on Facebook at:, on: Twitter@USPSstamps or at:

Kathleen Swanson is a spokeswoman for U.S. Postal Service.



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