Timeline: 1945-1989, in Decades
Based on the compilation of Christopher Rawson, Post-Gazette Drama Critic
- August Wilson was born on April 27, 1945, IN pITTSBURGto Daisy Wilson and Frederick August Kittel, a German emigrant. He is the fourth of six children: Donna Conley, Linda Jean Denoya, Freda Ellis, Edwin Kittel and Richard Kittel.
1960 - 1969
- Wilson attends Central Catholic High School but leaves the school because of racist abuse. He would later attend Connelly Vocational High School but leave that school also, for lack of a challenging Curriculum.
- Wilson attends Gladstone High School but drops out of Gladstone at 10th grade when a teacher accuses him of plagiarizing a 20-page paper on Napoleon Bonaparte. Wilson proceeds to educate himself at the Carnegie Public Library and through life experiences.
- Wilson enlists in the U.S. Army. He signs up for three years but leaves after one year.
- He works at a variety of jobs before he began writing for a living. He was a dishwasher, a cook, a porter, short-order cook and a gardener.
- Wilson discovers the blues -- Bessie Smith's "Nobody Can Bake a Sweet Jelly Roll Like Mine."
- Wilson's biological father dies. He changes his name from August Kittel to August Wilson.
- He buys his first typewriter for $20.00, and writes poetry.
- He moves into a rooming house on Bedford Avenue.
- Wilson along with his friend Rob Penny, co-founds the theater Black Horizon.
- Wilson's stepfather, David Bedford, dies.
- Wilson marries Brenda Burton.
1970 - 1979
- Kuntu Repertory Theater runs "The Homecoming", directed by Vernell Lillie.
- Wilson sees "Sizwe Bansi Is Dead" at the Pittsburgh Public Theater.
This play by Athol Fugard about a Black South African man, struggling with identity under apartheid, was the first professional play he saw. It had a tremendous effect on Wilson.
- Wilson writes "Black Bart and the Sacred Hills." His first musical satire.
- Wilson moves to St. Paul, Minneapolis, where he finds a job writing for the Science Museum.
- He receives a fellowship to attend the Minneapolis Playwrights Center.
- Wilson marries a second time. His wife is Judy Oliver, a social worker.
- "Jitney" is staged by the Allegheny Repertory Theatre in Pittsburgh. It is directed by Bob Johnson. The cast includes Ron Pitts, Curtis Porter, Monte Russell, Milt Thompson, and Sala Udin.
- "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" is staged at the National Playwrights Conference at O'Neill Theater Center in Connecticut.
- August Wilson meets Lloyd Richards who will direct his first six plays on Broadway
- Wilson's mother, Daisy Wilson, dies.
- "Ma Rainey Black Bottom" premieres at Yale Repertory Theatre.
- "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" moves to Broadway that same year.
- Wilson Wins New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best play.
- Chicago Tribune, October 15, 1984
- Christian Science Monitor, October 16, 1984, pp.29-30
- Los Angeles Times, November 24, 1984
- New York Times, April 11, 1984; April 13, 1984; October 12, 1984
- Theater, fall-winter, 1984, pp.50-55; summer-fall
- Times (London), November 6, 1984
- "Fences" premieres at Yale Repertory Theater.
- Nominated for the Antoinette Perry Award (Tony), from League of New York Theatres and Producers.
- Wins the Whiting Writers' Award from the Whiting Foundation.
- Ebony, January, 1985
- New York Times, May 5, 1985, p.80
- Saturday Review, January-February, 1985, pp.83, 90
- "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" premieres at Yale Repertory Theater.
- Reunion of Centre Avenue Poets Theater Workshop featuring Maisha Baton, Rob Penny and others.
- Los Angeles Times, November 7, 1986
- Ma Rainey's Black Bottom; wins Outstanding Play Award from American Theatre Critics.
- Wins Drama Desk's, Outstanding New Play Award.
- Wins New York Drama Critics Circle, Best Play Award.
- Wins Pulitzer Prize for drama.
- Wins Antoinette Perry Award (Tony), for best play.
- Wins Best Broadway play, from the Outer Critics Circle.
- Chicago Tribune, February 9, 1986, pp.12-13
- New York Times, May 6, 1986; May 14, 1986; May 19, 1986, p. Cli
- Theater, Summer-Fall, 1986, pp.64
- Washington Post, May 20, 1986
- "Fences" opens on Broadway.
- Wilson wins New York Drama Critics Circle Award for "Fences".
- Wilson's first Pulitzer Prize drama grosses $11 million at the box office. It is the first non-musical production to gross that much on Broadway.
- Kuntu Theater in Pittsburgh stages a premiere of "Ma Rainey."
- Wilson wins the Outer Critics Circle's John Gassner Award; best American Playwright for "Fences."
- Wilson is the Artist of the Year, for the Chicago Tribune.
- He wins the Literary Lion Award from the New York Public Library.
- Chicago Tribune, June 8, 1987; December 17, 1987; December 27, 1987, pp.4-S
- Christian Science Monitor, March 27, 1987, pp.1, 8
- Ebony, November, 1987, pp.68, 70, 72, 74.
- Essence, August, 1987, pp.51, 111, 113
- Los Angeles Times, April 17, 1987; June 7, 1987; June 8, 1987; June 9, 1987
- Newsweek, April 6, 1987
- New York, April 6, 1987, pp.92-94
- New Yorker, April 6, 1987, p.81
- New York Newsday, April 20, 1987, p.47.
- New York Times, March 27, 1987, p. C3; April 5, 1987, II, pp.1, 39; April 9, 1987; April 17, 1987; May 7, 1987; June 10, 1987, pp.36, 40, 49, 70. December 10, 1987; December 11, 1987
- Time, April 6, 1987, p.81; April 27, 1987
- Times (London), April 18, 1987; April 24, 1987
- Washington Post, April 15, 1987; June 9, 1987; October 4, 1987; October 9, 1987
- "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" opens on Broadway.
- "Joe Turner wins New York Drama Critic Circle Award.
- Wilson lectures on "Blacks Blues and Cultural Imperialism." at the Carnegie Institute's Man and Ideas series.
- He talks of the racist reality growing up Black in Pittsburgh.
- Wilson appears on Bill Moyers' "World of Ideas" (PBS).
- He Receives the Best Play Award for "Joe Turner's Come and Gone", from the New York Drama Critics Circle.
- "Joe Turner's Come and Gone", Drama Desk Outstanding New Play Award.
- He wins the Antoinette Perry Award (Tony Award) for Best Play.
- He wins the American Theatre Critics Outstanding Play Award.
- Wilson wins the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1988.
- Christian Science Monitor, March 30, 1988, p.21
- Los Angeles Times, February 6, 1988
- Massachusetts Review, spring, 1988, pp. 87-97
- Newsweek, April 11, 1988, p.82
- New Yorker, April 11, 1988, p.107
- New York Post, March 28, 1988
- New York Post, March 27, 1988, pp.1, 34; March 28, 1988, p. CiS
- Theater, summer-fall, 1988, pp.69-71
- Time, April 11, 1988, pp.77-78
- Pittsburgh Public Theater stages its first Wilson play "Fences". Also, "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" that same year.
- "The Piano Lesson" premieres at Yale Repertory Theater.
- August Wilson is named 1990 Pittsburgher of the Year, by the Pittsburgh Magazine.
- Esquire, April, 1989, pp. 116, 118, 120, 122-27
- New York Times, January 30, 1989, p.69
- Time, January 30, 1989, p.69