Willard Motley was born in Chicago, Illinois, on 14 July 1909 and grew up in a racially mixed neighbourhood in south Chicago. At the age of thirteen he began to write a children's column for the Chicago Defender, an African American newspaper. After graduating from Englewood High School in 1929 Motley began to submit work to popular magazines, but it would be 1938 before he published, primarily in small travel magazines.

In 1940 he began work on a novel, Knock on Any Door (1947). The story of an Italian American boy's transformation from altar boy to armed robber and murderer, Knock on Any Door drew on Motley's life in the Chicago slums during the 1930s, his experience on the Federal Writers' Project, and h…

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Citation: Fleming, Robert E.. "Willard Motley". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 March 2001 [https://staging.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=3226, accessed 09 December 2023.]

3226 Willard Motley 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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