William Attaway was an American novelist, short story writer, and songwriter. He was born on November 19, 1911, in Greenville, Mississippi, and passed away on June 17, 1986, in Los Angeles, California.
Attaway is best known for his novel “Blood on the Forge,” published in 1941. The novel tells the story of three African American brothers who migrate from the rural South to the industrial North, specifically from rural Kentucky to the steel mills of Pittsburgh during the Great Migration. “Blood on the Forge” explores themes of racism, labor exploitation, and the challenges faced by African Americans in the early 20th century.
In addition to his work as a novelist, Attaway was also a songwriter. He collaborated with songwriter Harry Belafonte to write the lyrics for the famous calypso song “Banana Boat Song (Day-O).” The song became a major hit and has since been covered by various artists.
Attaway’s writing often focused on the experiences of African Americans, highlighting social issues and the struggles faced by marginalized communities. His work contributed to the African American literary tradition and shed light on the realities of racism and discrimination in American society.
While “Blood on the Forge” remains his most well-known work, Attaway also wrote other novels, short stories, and plays, though he did not achieve the same level of success with his subsequent works. However, his contributions to literature and music continue to be recognized, and his work remains an important part of African American literary history.