However, the family life was precarious, and Ralph worked various jobs during his youth and teens to assist with family support.
While attending Douglass High School, he also found time to play on the school's football team. He worked for a year, and found the money to make a down payment on a trumpet, using it to play with local musicians, and to take further music lessons. Ellison's outsider position at Tuskegee "sharpened his satirical lens," critic Hilton Als believes: "Standing apart from the university's air of sanctimonious Negritude enabled him to write about it." In passages of Invisible Man, "he looks back with scorn and despair on the snivelling ethos that ruled at Tuskegee." headed by composer William L. Ellison also was guided by the department's piano instructor, Hazel Harrison. Eliot's The Waste Land as a major awakening moment.
Lewis Alfred Ellison, a small-business owner and a construction foreman, died in 1916, after an operation to cure internal wounds suffered after shards from a 100-lb ice block penetrated his abdomen, when it was dropped while being loaded into a hopper.
The elder Ellison loved literature, and doted on his children, Ralph discovering as an adult that his father had hoped he would grow up to be a poet.
A posthumous novel, Juneteenth, was published after being assembled from voluminous notes he left after his death.
Ralph Waldo Ellison, named after Ralph Waldo Emerson, was born at 407 East First Street in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Lewis Alfred Ellison and Ida Millsap, on Saturday March 1, 1913. Ellison was admitted to Tuskegee Institute in 1933 for lack of a trumpet player in its orchestra.
For The New York Times, the best of these essays in addition to the novel put him "among the gods of America's literary Parnassus." was born at 407 East First Street in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Lewis Alfred Ellison and Ida Millsap, on March 1, 1914.
He was the second of three sons; firstborn Alfred died in infancy, and younger brother Herbert Maurice (or Millsap) was born in 1916.
After Ellison wrote a book review for Wright, Wright encouraged him to write fiction as a career.
His first published story was "Hymie's Bull," inspired by Ellison's 1933 hoboing on a train with his uncle to get to Tuskegee.