Nathan C. Heard 


Nathan C. Heard is considered one of the forefathers of "urban literature". Heard's first novel Howard Street, published in 1968, depicts the underbelly of inner-city life of Black America. Howard Street sold more than 1 million copies. 

Nathan C. Heard started writing while serving a seven year sentence for armed robbery at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton. After his release, Heard taught creative writing and black literature at the University of California-Fresno and Rutgers and appeared in several "Blaxpoitation" films. He played the role of Big Pink alongside other actors Paul Winfield and Grace Jones, in the 1973 movie Gordon's War which was directed by Ossie Davis.

Heard also wrote a column for the New York Times and Essence Magazine.

Nathan Heard passed away in 2004 at the age of 67 of complications from Parkinson's Disease.

Howard Street was Nathan C. Heard's big debut in 1968. Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey in the Howard Street area, Heard wrote Howard Street while incarcerated for armed robbery. He once described himself as an unsuccessful criminal who took up writing in prison to pass the time. Heard's mother showed his manuscript to his attorney who then gave it to a literary agent, and Heard's life was changed forever. Howard street sold over a million copies, becoming a best seller.

Heard went on to write four other novels, stage plays, acted in blaxploitation movies like Gordon's War and the Undertaker and taught creative writing at California State University (Fresno) and Rutgers University. He also was a contributing writer for such publications as The NY Times and Essence before his passing in 2004 at the age of 67.


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