Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Robert Lee Maupin  

Pen Name: Robert Beck, Robert Maupin Beck and Iceberg Slim

Genre: Fiction Non-Fiction

Born: August 4, 1918 in Chicago, Illinois

Sites:


Illinois Connection

He was born in and lived in Chicago, Illinois until he was 43 years old.

Biographical and Professional Information

Maupin was a writer and lecturer. He attended the prestigiuous Tuskegee Institute and was reported to have an IQ of 175. From 1937-1962 he worked as a manager of prostitutes. After spending time in prison, he moved to Los Angeles and kicked his heroin habit on his own. He then married and had children and worked as an insecticide salesman in the mid 60's. After meeting a college professor during a sale, the professor convinced him to collaborate on a book of his life story with him. After finding out that his share of the royalties would be very small, Maupin decided to write his own book before the professor could finish his. Maupin was once believed to be the best-selling African American writer ever - with more than six million copies of his books sold by the time of his death. Josh Friedman referred to the author as "a savagely gifted storyteller, whose paperback novels sold in unpresedented numbers in the ghettos. He wrote flagrantly in the pre-Ebonics lingo of Chicag's South Side - which even today repels the upwardly mobile Black middle class. Iceberg's books contain glossaries of underworld Negro slang that went out with minstrel shows and burnt cork blackface."Maupin's books have been translated into foreign languages. His book ''Trick Baby'' was adapted as a film by Larry Yust. The film rights for ''Pimp: The Story of My Life'', were purchased by Universal Pictures.


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