Ely

An Autobiography

Introduction by Lillian Smith

Foreword by Bertram Wyatt-Brown

Ely Green

Title Details

Pages: 280

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.250in

Formats

Paperback

Pub Date: 01/05/2004

ISBN: 9-780-8203-2397-8

List Price: $29.95

Ely

An Autobiography

Introduction by Lillian Smith

Foreword by Bertram Wyatt-Brown

Ely Green

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Ely Green was born in Sewanee, Tennessee, in 1893. His father was a member of the white gentry, the son of a former Confederate officer. His mother was a housemaid, the daughter of a former slave. In this small Episcopal community-home to the University of the South-Ely lived his early childhood oblivious to the implications of his illegitimacy and his parentage. He was nearly nine years old before he realized that being different from his white playmates was of any real significance.

An incident at a local drugstore marked the beginning of what would be a painful rite of passage from an idyllic childhood through a tormented adolescence as Ely struggled to understand why he could not wholly belong to either his father's world or his mother's. "I was having a struggle within," he writes, ". . . learning to hate white people after I had been taught that they were all God's children and we are to love everybody." At age eighteen, still warring to reconcile one part of himself with the other, he fled the mountains of Tennessee-and a brewing lynch mob-for the plains of Texas and a new beginning.

Straightforwardly recounting his early life, rising above bitterness and pain, Ely Green gives his readers an astoundingly honest and poignant portrait of a young man trying to come to terms with race relations in the early twentieth-century South.

Fairskinned, Green struggled with the particular circumstances of his life-he was neither black nor white. This is the story of his life in Sewanee, from his childhood to age eighteen, when, threatened by a lynch mob, he left Tennessee for Texas and a new life.

—Washington Post

Unlike any other story of race . . . Poignant and powerful

—Margaret Walker, Saturday Review

This is the poignant story of the life of a Southerner, bastard son of a white father of prominent family and a Negro girl, told by the author in his old age. . . . The narrative is simple, rapid, unspoiled by sentimentality of any kind.

—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author/Editor

Ely Green (1893-1968) was born in Sewanee, Tennesee, and died in Santa Monica, California. His many and varied occupations included soldier, baseball trainer, boxer, oil field labor organizer, and restauranteur.