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The American writer Ralph Waldo Ellison was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on March 1, 1914. He achieved international fame with his first novel, Invisible Man (1952). He was influenced early by the myth of the frontier, viewing the United States as a land of "infinite possibilities." The close-knit black community in which he grew up supplied him with images of courage and endurance and an interest in music.
From 1933 to 1936, Ellison attended Tuskegee Institute, intent upon pursuing a career in music; his readings in modern literature, however, interested him in writing. In 1936 he moved to New York City, met the novelist Richard Wright, and became associated with the Federal Writers' Project, publishing short stories and articles in such magazines as New Challenge and New Masses.