Arnold Rampersad (born 13 November 1941) is a biographer and literary critic, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago and moved to the US in 1965. The first volume (1986) of his Life of Langston Hughes was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and his Ralph Ellison: A Biography was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award.
Also an academic, Rampersad is currently Professor of English and the Sara Hart Kimball Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University. He was Senior Associate Dean for the Humanities from January 2004 to August 2006.
Professor Rampersad was a member of the Stanford English Department from 1974 to 1983, before accepting a position at Rutgers University. Since then he taught there and at Columbia and Princeton before returning to Stanford in 1998.
Rampersad graduated from Bowling Green State University with a bachelor's degree and master's degree in English (1967 and 1968). In 1973 he earned a Ph.D from Harvard University, his dissertation being subsequently published as the intellectual biography The Art and Imagination of W. E. B. DuBois.
Rampersad's teaching covers such areas as 19th- and 20th-century American literature; the literature of the American South; American and African-American autobiography; race and American literature; and the Harlem Renaissance. From 1991 to 1996, he held a MacArthur "Genius Grant" fellowship. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society. In 2007, his biography of Ralph Ellison (1914–1994), which he had worked on for eight years, was a nonfiction finalist for the National Book Award. In 2010, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal, and in 2012 was the recipient of the BIO Award from Biographers International Organization. Also in 2012, he won a Lifetime Achievement Prize from the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards.
- The Art and Imagination of W.E.B. Du Bois (Harvard, 1976; reprint, with new introduction, Schocken, 1990)
- The Life of Langston Hughes (Oxford, 2 vols, 1986, 1988)
- Days of Grace: A Memoir (Knopf, 1993), co-authored with Arthur Ashe
- Jackie Robinson: A Biography (Knopf, 1997)
- Ralph Ellison: A Biography (Knopf, 2007)
In addition, Rampersad has edited several volumes, including the following:
- Collected Poems of Langston Hughes,
- the Library of America edition (2 vols) of works by Richard Wright, including revised individual editions of Native Son and Black Boy
- Slavery and the Literary Imagination (as co-author)
- Race and American Culture (co-editor with Shelley Fisher Fishkin) - of the book series published by Oxford University Press
- Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes (co-editor with David Roessel) (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. 2006)