Willard Motley

Willard Motley will be inducted into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame on December 6, 2014. Motley’s first novel, Knock on Any Door, is on the short list of the greatest Chicago novels ever written. This African-American writer brilliantly creates the story of Italian- American Nick Romano, a street thug who eventually murders. This book also has the best fictional account of life and death in Chicago’s Depression-Era Skid Row.

Motley began his career writing the Bud Billiken column for the Chicago Defender newspaper for eighteen months in the early 1920s. In the 1930s, he co-founded Hull House Magazine. From 1940-43 he worked for the WPA Federal Writers Project, where he gathered much of his material for Knock on Any Door, which was published in 1947 and achieved instant success. Although his subsequent literary achievements never measured up to his first novel, Motley remains a legendary Chicago writer.motley