Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information


Pen Name: None

Genre: C:ADULT Fiction

Born: March 28, 1909 in Detroit, Michigan


Illinois Connection

Algren lived and worked in Chicago between 1939 and 1970.

Biographical and Professional Information

Nelson Algren was born in Detroit and died in New York but spent the better part of his life his childhood through his most productive writing years in Chicago. He was a novelist and short story writer who was once called the "Poet of the Chicago Slums." He combined subjects drawn from street life with an eloquent, poetic style in a series of novels ans short stories, many of which were in Chicago's Polish communities. His early books include ''Somebody in Boots'' (1935), ''Never Come Morning'' (1942) and the short-story collection, ''The Neon Wilderness'' (1947). ''The Man with a Golden Arm'' (1949) was a great popular success and became a successful Hollywood film starring Frank Sinatra in 1956. ''A Walk on the Wild Side'' (1956) was also filmed in 1962. Algren also wrote the prose poem ''Chicago: City on the Make'' (1951).

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library



-- ''The Man With the Golden Arm'' -- *National Book Award Winner for Fiction, 1950


-- ''Walk on the Wild Side'' -- *Finalist, National Book Award for Fiction - 1957


-- """Other Awards and Honors"""

-- *Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, 2010

-- *In 1990, his name was engraved on the frieze of the Illinois State Library alongside other great Illinois literary figures.