Walter Ellis Mosley- 2011

Walter Ellis Mosley

National Book Foundation Medalist best known for crime fiction

Top Notch Character

By Michael “Cutter” VanGavree 

Walter Mosley is one of the most decorated, and well-known authors in the United States.  Mosley is best known for his crime-fiction work, which he has more than sixty critically acclaimed novels in varying genres. The difficulties in Mosley’s life have propelled him to not only attain the success he has achieved, but the humble and relatable traits of him as an individual and author. Many authors have a relatively large ego because of the number of awards they have under their belt, but this is simply not the case with Mosley. The ability to overcome adversity is what determines who a person is. Mosley overcame adversity again and again in his life helping him become a wonderful example of a person to his fan base. 

First of all, many people can relate to having a loving family, but still not having a lot of wealth or possessions when they were younger. This is exactly what Mosley had in his younger years. Mosley did not have a cushiony childhood to propel him with an easy route to his success, with his father being a janitor and his mother working as a personnel clerk. He did not have access to the best clothing, education, or common amenities. However, Mosley did have supporting parents who encouraged him to pursue what he wanted to do in life, and in his case, this was writing (Kagawa, 2011). Therefore, even having an encouraging and loving family, he was not handed a career. Mosley had to work extremely hard to make a name for himself.  

Moving to different places is not the easiest of things to do as it can be hard to adapt, however Mosley moved a fair amount in his lifetime. He was born in California, and proceeded to move the entire way across the country to Vermont where he attended college in search of furthering his education. Mosley was faced with adversity yet again when he was not able to graduate from college. Instead of giving up, he decided to enroll at another educational institution. This time Mosley was able to obtain a degree in political science the second time around (Kagawa, 2011). This is a perfect example of yet another difficulty that Mosley had to overcome that helped mold his character into the person he would soon become. 

Next, Mosley yet again moved, but this time it was to New York City. Referring back to how moving can be difficult, by this point in his life Mosley had become acquainted to the struggles of relocating. Some people move a lot throughout their life, and they can most definitely understand how it can be challenging. Mosley overcame the adversity of moving multiple times, when he moved, the final time, to New York. He was rewarded with finding the love his life, Joy Kellman, and married her in 1987 (Kagawa, 2011). Unfortunately, they ended up getting divorced after fourteen years of marriage. Heartbreak can be one of the most difficult things to overcome in life, and it is something that Mosley knows all to well. Most people in life will experience heartbreak, but it is especially hard when you have spent so long with a certain person. Mosley was able to move past the adversity of heartbreak from his broken marriage, and he decided to focus his time and energy into writing. 

Lastly, despite all of these hardships that Mosley has overcome in his life, he has created a highly successful and well-respected writing career. Some of his best-known works include Devil in a Blue Dress, A Red Death, White Butterfly, and Black Betty (Geherin n.a). The multiple times adversity stopped Mosley dead in his tracks, he was set on pushing forward and keeping onward. The difficulties Mosley faced, and the way he responded to these roadblocks, created a strong and determined character, which led to the successful life he has made for himself. 

Works Cited 

Geherin, D. (n.d.). Walter Mosley BIOGRAPHY. Retrieved February 08, 2021, from 

Kagawa, Grant. “Walter Mosley (1952-).” Black Past, 7 Apr. 2011, 

Mosley, Walter  November. “Read Walter Mosley's Incredible Speech From Last Night's National Book Awards.” Literary Hub, 19 Nov. 2020,