Literary Zone

American writer Barbara Chase-Riboud

26 February 2024 at 18:28 | 2138 views

Barbara Chase-Riboud (born June 26, 1939) is an American visual artist and sculptor, bestselling novelist, and award-winning poet

After becoming established as a sculptor and poet, Chase-Riboud gained widespread recognition as an author for her novel Sally Hemings (1979). It earned the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize in Fiction, and became an international success.

Chase-Riboud’s novel about Sally Hemings generated discussion about the likely relationship between the young enslaved woman and her master, Thomas Jefferson, who became president of the United States.Mainline historians rejected Chase-Riboud’s portrayal and persuaded CBS not to produce a planned TV mini-series adapted from the novel. Following DNA analysis of descendants in 1998, the Jefferson-Hemings relationship is widely accepted by historians as fact, including those who had objected before.

Early life and education
Barbara Chase was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the only child of Vivian May Chase, a histology technician, and Charles Edward Chase, a contractor. Chase displayed an early talent for the arts and began attending the Fleisher Art Memorial School at the age of eight. She was suspended from her middle school after being accused, mistakenly, of plagiarizing her poem "Autumn Leaves". She attended Philadelphia High School for Girls from 1948 to 1952, graduating summa cum laude. During graduation, her text "Of Understanding" was read. She continued her training at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art.

In 1956, Chase received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Tyler School at Temple University. In that same year, Chase won a John Hay Whitney fellowship to study at the American Acaden Rome for 12 months. There, she created bronze sculptures and exhibited her work. During this time, she traveled to Egypt, where she discovered non-European art.In 1960, Chase completed a MFA degree from Yale University School of Design and Architecture . She is the first African-American woman to have received the MFA degree from Yale University. After completing her studies, Chase left the United States for London, England, and then Paris, France.