Chez Baldwin

An Exploration of James Baldwin's Life and Works Through the Powerful Lens of His House "Chez Baldwin" in St. Paul de Vence, France

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
01/05

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.
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James Baldwin holding his young sister, and his mother
02/05

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.
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James Baldwin's Passport
03/05

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.”
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James Baldwin with Joan Baez
04/05

Bearing Witness to the Movement

Explore how James Baldwin used various platforms to become a powerful voice in the Civil Rights Movement.
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James Baldwin at his typewriter
05/05

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.
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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

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.
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Inkwell Owned by 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.
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U.S. passport belonging to 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.
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The Fire Next Time

The Fire Next Time

The Fire Next Time (1962) is a collection of two essays, both underscoring the complexities of race in the United States. Baldwin wrote the first essay as a letter to his young nephew. In the second essay, he addresses the issue of race and its relationship to religion.
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World Council of Churches guest badge

James Baldwin wore this 1968 guest badge at the Fourth Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Uppsala, Sweden. During his speech, Baldwin encouraged the body of 349 churches in 150 countries to take a moral stand on the issue of liberating South Africa.
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Playbill for Blues for Mister Charlie

Blues for Mister Charlie Playbill

James Baldwin dedicated his 1964 play Blues For Mister Charlie “to the memory of Medgar Evers, and his widow and his children, and to the memory of the dead children of Birmingham.” The play was performed at the American National Theater and Academy Theater in New York.
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Another Country book cover

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.
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Explore More!

The Fire Next Time

James Baldwin's Literary Achievements

Explore Baldwin's literary career from 1940 - 1987 through our interactive timeline.
Baldwin, Transatlantic Commuter Learning Lab

Smithsonian Learning Lab

Discover online resources for classroom teachers, students, and parents from our interactive, educational platform.
panelists for The Fire Next Time on stage

Public Programs

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

Authors' Corner

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