Audre Lorde was born Audrey Geraldine Lorde in New York City in 1934. The daughter of immigrants from Grenada, Lorde grew up in Manhattan and published her first poem as a teenager, in the magazine Seventeen. Lorde attended Hunter College and received a master's degree in library science from Columbia, after which she worked as a librarian in New York public schools.
Lorde's first volume of poetry, The First Cities, was published in 1968. Lorde published another volume, Cables to Rage, in 1970, in which she confirmed her homosexuality, followed by 1973's From a Land Where Other People Live, which was nominated for a National Book Award. Lorde's other books of poetry are New York Head Shop and Museum (1975), Coal (1976), The Black Unicorn (1978), in which she examined her African heritage, Chosen Poems Old and New (1982) and Our Dead Behind Us (1986)...Show More »
Lorde's first prose collection, The Cancer Journals, describing her diagnosis and struggle with cancer, won the Gay Caucus Book of the Year for 1981. Subsequent prose volumes include Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982), in which Lorde explained why she dropped the "y" from her first name, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (1984), and A Burst of Light (1988), which won an American Book Award. Lorde was the poet laureate of New York from 1991 to 1992.
Lorde was also an activist, and much of her writing reflected her commitment to civil rights, anti-war, feminist and gay rights issues. In the 1980s, Lorde cofounded Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press. She was a founding member of the anti-apartheid organization Sisters in Support of Sisters in South Africa. Lorde was also a professor of English at John Jay College and her alma mater, Hunter College. Lorde, who battled cancer for over a decade, died in 1992; a posthumous volume, The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde, was published in 1997. Lorde had two children from an early marriage that ended in divorce.