Gwendolyn Brooks is a prominent African American poet of the twentieth century, and is known for her indelible impact in African American literature. Brooks was born in 1917 in Topeka, Kansas. Soon after her birth her family moved to Chicago, the city where she was associated with the rest of life. Her family was by no means affluent, but what they lacked in material quantity they made up for with close knittedness. Gwedolyn was impressioned by the warm, interrropersonal relationship between her family members, which can seen echoed in her work. When Gwedolyn was seven she started writing poems, and since she was age eleven she kept poetry notebooks. She went to three highschools as a teenager. The first highschool was the most prominent highschool in Chicago, and all white. The second was an all black highschool, and the third was an integrated school. This experience helped at a young age distill Gwedolyn with an intense knowledge of racial dynamics, which will later come out full force in her writings. Gwedolyn graduated from Wilson Junior College and got an education in the moderns, such as Ezra Pound and T.S. Elliot, under the guidance of a rich Chicago socialite by the name of Inez Stark. Influences such as these poets, along with a variety of others from Emily Dickinson to ee cUMMINGS, influenced her writing.
Her first book was A Street in Bronzeville, a name journalists gave to a black ghetto in Chicago. In this book of poems she chronicles the laments of hardships in African American life from the quietest heart ache to the harshest violence. These poems were written in the first phase of Brook's writing. At this point of time, Gwedolyn was writing in the tradition of Langston Hughes and her peers in the Harlem Renaissance; a writing that mildly political, while still not being militantly confrontational with the issues of racial hardships. In 1949 she published the book Annie Allen.