E. Lynn Harris was born in 1955 in Flint, Michigan, but moved to Little Rock at age three. A frequent library visitor, he fell in love with the writings of James Baldwin and Maya Angelou.
He attended the University of Arkansas, where he was the school’s first black cheerleader and yearbook editor, graduating with honors.
Harris kept his sexual identity secret, which led to depression and a suicide attempt. He found writing therapeutic, and in 1991 self-published his first book, Invisible Life, which led to a three-book deal with Doubleday.