A Guide to the Ernest J. Gaines Center

This guide will give you information about Ernest J. Gaines and the Gaines Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

About the Center

The Ernest J. Gaines Center at University of Louisiana at Lafayette is an international center for scholarship on Ernest Gaines and his work. The center honors the work of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Writer-in-Residence Emeritus and provides a space for scholars and students to work with the Gaines papers and manuscripts. Gaines’s generous donation of his early papers and manuscripts (through 1983) and some artifacts to Edith Garland Dupré Stacks of Books by Ernest J. GainesLibrary provided the foundation for the center’s collection.

The mission of the Ernest J. Gaines Center is to foster research and scholarship on the life and works of Mr. Ernest J. Gaines, to archive, house, preserve, protect and utilize the “Collection of Ernest J. Gaines,” and to make the collection available to scholars in perpetuity. As part of its mission, the Center will collect, catalog and maintain a body of scholarship surrounding Gaines and his works; organize and conduct, as appropriate, colloquia, seminars, and conferences centered upon the Ernest J. Gaines Center.

 

Ernest J. Gaines - Brief Biography

Ernest J. Gaines SpeakingErnest J. Gaines (b. 1933) is a world renowned novelist, short story writer, and teacher. Ernest J. Gaines is among the most widely read and highly respected contemporary authors of African American fiction. He was born in Pointe Coupée Parish in Louisiana and at age fifteen, Gaines moved to California, joining his mother and stepfather there, because his Louisiana parish had no high school for African Americans.

After graduating high school and serving in the Army, Gaines enrolled in San Francisco State University where he began publishing in the University's quarterly literary journal. These stories secured him a place in Stanford University's graduate program for creative writing. After leaving Stanford, he settled in the San Francisco area.

In 1981, he accepted the position of Writer-in-Residence (Visiting) here at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (University of Southern Louisiana at the time). Not long into his tenure, he published A Gathering of Old Men (1983) which was also adapted for television. 1993 saw the publication of A Lesson Before Dying, which was adapted for television in 1999 and is one of his most critically acclaimed movies.

Before retiring in 2004, Mr. Gaines won numerous awards including the Louisiana Humanist of the Year and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1993. In 2000, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal and was made a Chevalier (Knight) of the French Order of Arts and Letters.

The Ernest J. Gaines Center at University of Louisiana at Lafayette is an international center for scholarship on Ernest Gaines and his work. The center honors the work of UL Lafayette's Writer-in-Residence Emeritus and provides a space for scholars and students to work with the Gaines papers and manuscripts. Gaines's generous donation of his early papers and manuscripts (through 1983) and some artifacts to Edith Garland Dupré Library provided the foundation for the center's collection. The center also anticipates acquiring the remainder of Gaines's papers.

UL Lafayette established the Ernest J. Gaines Center in 2008, and a Board was appointed shortly thereafter. Construction of the center, located on the third floor of Edith Garland Dupré Library, began in August 2009. The center was completed in fall 2010 and held its grand opening on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010.

Ernest J. Gaines - Books

Mozart and Leadbelly Book cover
In My Father's House Book Cover
Of Love and Dust Book Cover
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman Book Cover
A Gathering of Old Men Book Cover
Catherine Carmier Book Cover

Ernest J. Gaines - Photos