Russell Baker

Born in 1925, Russell Baker is the oldest of three children in an impoverished rural Virginia family. When Baker was 5, during the depths of the Great Depression, his father died of diabetes.

Baker’s family moved to New Jersey and, in 1937, to Baltimore. They lived at 1429 W. Lombard Street, across Union Square from the home of H.L. Mencken.

Baker graduated from Baltimore City College and received his B.A. degree in English from Johns Hopkins in 1947, after taking a break to serve in the U.S. Navy during WWII. With the help of a writing teacher, Baker landed a job as a reporter at the Baltimore Sun, covering the police beat for two years.

In 1954, Baker was hired in the Washington Bureau of the New York Times. In 1962 he began writing the “Observer” column in the Times, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1979. He won a second Pulitzer in 1983 for his autobiography, Growing Up.

For members of the television-watching audience, Baker is perhaps best known as the host of the PBS program Masterpiece Theatre from 1992 to 2004.

Today, Baker lives in retirement in Leesburg, VA.

Wikipedia: Russell Baker
Baltimore Literary Heritage Project: Russell Baker