James Baldwin’s house in the South of France serves as a powerful lens to explore his life and works. From 1971 to 1987, the last sixteen years of his life, Baldwin's home in St. Paul de Vence was his permanent, vibrant abode and an important social center for artists and intellectuals from Europe, Africa, America, and around the world.

Once I found myself on the other side of the ocean, I could see where I came from very clear … You can never escape that. I am the grandson of a slave, and I am a writer. I must deal with both. James Baldwin

Stories from Chez Baldwin

Discover stories exploring Baldwin's time in St. Paul de Vence, his early life in Harlem, world travels, and impact as a writer and activist.
Baldwin house

Power of Place: St. Paul de Vence

Discover how James Baldwin changed the trajectory of his life by changing the place in which he lived.
Read Stories about Power of Place: St. Paul de Vence
James Baldwin holding his young sister, and his mother

Baldwin at a Glance

The will to transcend borders, maintain family ties, and cultivate friendships fueled James Baldwin’s remarkable journey from Harlem to France.
Read Stories about Baldwin at a Glance
James Baldwin's Passport

Transatlantic Commuter

Although he spent the bulk of his life in Europe, James Baldwin always considered himself an American writer living as a “transatlantic commuter.”
Read Stories about Transatlantic Commuter
James Baldwin with Joan Baez

Bearing Witness to the Movement

Explore how James Baldwin used various platforms to become a powerful voice in the Civil Rights Movement.
Read Stories about Bearing Witness to the Movement
James Baldwin at his typewriter

An Author for the Ages

For James Baldwin, a true writer defies ideological labels because the demands of art involve searching for truth, shifting paradigms, and changing attitudes and beliefs.
Read Stories about An Author for the Ages
For these innocent people have no other hope. They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it. James Baldwin

Explore the Collection

Discover objects from James Baldwin’s life in St. Paul de Vence

Address book belonging to James Baldwin

This 1951 address book includes the address of James Baldwin’s fellow writer Richard Wright, who had moved to France in 1946. Baldwin arrived in France two years later and met with Wright in Paris.
Read Story about Address book belonging to James Baldwin

Inkwell Owned by James Baldwin

This inkwell was among James Baldwin's personal effects from his house in St. Paul de Vence in the South of France.
Read Story about Inkwell Owned by James Baldwin

U.S. passport belonging to James Baldwin

This 1965 passport documents James Baldwin’s travels to various countries and his visits to the United States during the late 1960s.
Read Story about U.S. passport belonging to James Baldwin

The Fire Next Time

The Fire Next Time (1962) includes two essays on the complexities of race in the United States. Baldwin’s first essay is a letter to his young nephew. The second essay is about the relationship of race to religion.
Read Story about The Fire Next Time

World Council of Churches guest badge

James Baldwin wore this 1968 badge at the World Council of Churches Fourth Assembly in Uppsala, Sweden, where he encouraged the body of 349 churches in 150 countries to take a moral stand on apartheid in South Africa.
Read Story about World Council of Churches guest badge

Blues for Mister Charlie Playbill

James Baldwin dedicated his 1964 play Blues for Mister Charlie to the memory of Medgar Evers and his family and the “dead children of Birmingham.” The play was performed at the American National Theater and Academy in New York.
Read Story about Blues for Mister Charlie Playbill

Another Country

James Baldwin completed the novel Another Country (1962) in Istanbul, Turkey. Themes in the novel, controversial at the time, include interracial relations, sexuality, and black masculinity.
Read Story about Another Country

Explore More!

Digital resources to continue your exploration of the life, work, and impact of James Baldwin.

Left, James Baldwin, Right, cover of his non-fiction book, The Fire Next Time

James Baldwin’s Literary Achievements

Explore Baldwin’s literary career from 1940 - 1987 through our interactive timeline.

Read more about James Baldwin’s Literary Achievements
Tan background with a partial photo of Baldwin and the words "Learning History Through Objects" and "James Baldwin: Transatlantic Commuter"

Smithsonian Learning Lab

Discover online resources for classroom teachers, students, and parents from our interactive, educational platform.

Discover about Smithsonian Learning Lab
photo of an black woman and a white man sitting in chairs on a stage with a low table in between them.

Public Programs

Watch past public programs from our Oprah Winfrey Theater on Ustream discussing the life, legacy, and impact of James Baldwin.

Watch about Public Programs
portrait photo of a smiling woman with purple and black hair, wearing a black top and neckless with a red disc.

Authors’ Corner

Noted Baldwin scholars discuss the impact of his work on their work and their lives.

Find Discussion about Authors’ Corner

Digital Exhibition Resources

Share this page