was an award winning American playwright who chronicled the African American experience through a series of ten plays. He was born Frederick August Kittel, Jr. on April 27, 1945 in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, PA. His father was a German immigrant named Frederick August Kitteland his mother was an African American woman named Daisy Wilson.
From a young age, Wilson began to read such writers as WEB DuBois, Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, and Richard Wright, which influenced his own writing. Mainly self educated, and after holding various jobs, Mr. Wilson became involved with Rob Penny in Black Horizons on the Hill, a Pittsburgh theater company, in the late 1960s.
Mr. Wilson is best known for 10 plays. Known as The Pittsburgh Cycle, each play is set in a different decade of the 20th Century, chronicling the African-American experience:
1900s - Gem of the Ocean (2003)
1910s - Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (1988)
1920s - Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (1984) - set in Chicago
1930s - The Piano Lesson (1990) - Pulitzer Prize
1940s - Seven Guitar s (1995)
1950s – Fences (1987) - Pulitzer Prize
1960s - Two Trains Running (1991)
1970s - Jitney (1982)
1980s - King Hedley II (1999)
1990s - Radio Golf (2005)
Nine of the ten plays are set in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, near Wilson’s childhood home. The only exception is Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which is located in Chicago.