During the journalism department's annual High School Press Days in the spring of 1976, E. Lynn Harris, then a junior in college, talks with high school students about yearbook design.
Once a Writer, Always a Writer
E. Lynn Harris worked on The Traveler during the mid-1970s and helped break down some of the racial barriers that continued on campus. He was the first African-American to serve as editor of the Razorback yearbook and the first black male to land a spot as a Razorback cheerleader.
Born in Flint, Michigan, Harris and his three sisters were reared in Little Rock by his mother. He came to the university to study journalism and graduated with honors in 1977. After graduation, he worked for IBM, Hewlett-Packard and AT&T for 13 years before he quit to concentrate on writing his first novel, "Invisible Life," a book about the trials of living as a black gay man in America. Initially, Harris couldn't find a publisher who would take the book, so he published it himself in 1991 and sold it mostly through black-owned bookstores, hair salons and book clubs. Anchor Books in 1994 published a paperback copy of the book, and Harris's career as a novelist leapt onto the national stage.
He has since written seven more novels, all published by Doubleday & Co.:
All of his books have been New York Times best sellers, and both "Not a Day Goes By" and "Anyway the Wind Blows" debuted at No. 2 on the Times bestseller list. He has also had shorter work published in anthologies and compilations of stories and has worked on at least one screenplay.
In 2003, he published a memoir of his life, "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," which describes his loneliness and the depression of growing up in Arkansas as a closeted gay boy and the struggles to get published as a young man. And most recently, he edited "Freedom in This Village: Black Gay Men's Writing 1969 to the Present," published in 2004 by Random House. He is currently working on another novel, "The Greatest Pretenders," due out in 2006.
In 1999, the University of Arkansas Alumni Association honored Harris with its Citation of Distinguished Alumni for outstanding professional achievement. He has also been inducted into the Black Arkansan Hall of Fame and named one of the "Most Intriguing Blacks" by Ebony magazine. During the 2003-2004 school year, Harris returned to the campus as a visiting professor in the English department.