Chester Bomar Himes (July 29, 1909 – November 12, 1984) was an African American writer. He began writing in the early 1930s while serving a prison sentence for armed robbery. From there, he produced short stories for periodicals such as Esquire and Abbott’s Monthly. When released, he focussed on semi-autobiographical protest novels.
In 1953, Himes emigrated to France, where he was approached by Marcel Duhamel of Gallimard to write a detective series for Série Noire, which had published works from the likes of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Jim Thompson. Himes would be the first black author included in the series. The resulting Harlem Cycle gained him celebrity when he won France’s Grand Prix de Littérature Policière for La Reine des Pommes (now known in English as A Rage in Harlem) in 1958. Three of these novels have been adapted into movies: Cotton Comes to Harlem, directed by Ossie Davis in 1970; Come Back, Charleston Blue (based on The Heat’s On) in 1972; and A Rage in Harlem, starring Gregory Hines and Danny Glover in 1991.
In 1968, Himes moved to Spain where he made his home until his death.