Chester Himes was born in Jefferson City, Missouri in 1909 and grew up in Cleveland.
Aged 19 he was arrested for armed robbery and sentenced to 20 to 25 years in jail. In jail he began to write short stories, some of which were published in Esquire.
Upon release he took a variety of jobs from working in a California shipyard to journalism to script-writing while continuing to write fiction. He later moved to Paris where he was commissioned by La Série Noire to write the first of his Harlem detective novels, La reine des pommes/A Rage in Harlem, which won the 1957 Grand Prix du Roman Policier. In 1969 Himes moved to Spain, where he died in 1984.