See R. G. O'Meally, ed., Living with Music: Ralph Ellison's Jazz Writings (2001); biographies by L. Jackson (2002) and A. Rampersad (2007); studies by J. Hersey, ed. (1974), R. G. O'Meally (1980), A. Nadel (1988), M. Busby (1991), E. Schor (1993), J. G. Watts (1995), H, Bytkerm ed, (2000), H. Bloom, ed. (2003), K. W. Warren (2003), S. C. Tracy, ed. (2004), and J. S. Wright (2006).
During WWII Ellison joined the Merchant Marine, and in 1946 he married his second wife, Fanny McConnell. She supported her husband financially while he wrote Invisible Man, and typed Ellison's longhand text. She also assisted her husband in editing the typescript as it progressed.
In 1955, Ellison went abroad to Europe to travel and lecture before settling for a time in Rome, Italy, where he wrote an essay that appeared in a Bantam anthology called A New Southern Harvest in 1957. In 1958, he returned to the United States to take a position teaching American & Russian literature at Bard College and to begin a second novel, Juneteenth. During the 1950s he corresponded with his lifelong friend, the writer Albert Murray. In these letters they commented on the development of their careers, the civil rights movement and other common interests including jazz. Much of this material was published in the collection Trading Twelves (2000).
In 1964, Ellison published Shadow And Act, a collection of essays, and began to teach at Rutgers and Yale, and continued to work on his novel. The following year, a survey of 200 prominent literary figures was released that proclaimed Invisible Man as the most important novel since World War II.
In 1967, Ellison experienced a major house fire at his home in Plainfield, Massachusetts, in which he claimed 300 pages of his second novel manuscript were lost. This assertion is disproved in the 2007 biography of Ellison by Arnold Rampersad. A perfectionist regarding the art of the novel, Ellison had said in accepting his National Book Award for Invisible Man, that he felt he had made "an attempt at a major novel", and despite the award, he was unsatisfied with the book. Ellison ultimately wrote over 2000 pages of this second novel, most of them by 1959. He never finished.
Writing essays about both the black experience and his love for jazz music, Ellison continued to receive major awards for his work. In 1969, he received the Medal of Freedom; the following year, he was made a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by France and became a permanent member of the faculty at New York University as the Albert Schweitzer Professor of Humanities, acting from 1970-1980.
In 1975, Ellison was elected to the The American Academy of Arts and Letters and his hometown of Oklahoma City honored him with the dedication of the Ralph Waldo Ellison Library. Continuing to teach, Ellison published mostly essays, and in 1984, he received the New York City College's Langston Hughes Medallion. The following year saw the publication of Going to the Territory, a collection of seventeen essays that included insight into southern novelist William Faulkner and his friend Richard Wright, as well as the music of Duke Ellington and the contributions of African Americans to America’s national identity.
In 1992, Ellison was awarded a special achievement award from the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. Ellison was also an accomplished sculptor, musician, photographer and college professor. He taught at Bard College, Rutgers, the University of Chicago, and New York University. Ellison was also a charter member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
After his death, more manuscripts were discovered in his home, resulting in the publication of Flying Home: And Other Stories in 1996. In 1999, five years after his death, Ellison's second novel, Juneteenth (ISBN 0-394-46457-5), was published under the editorship of John F. Callahan, a professor at Lewis & Clark College and Ellison's literary executor. It was a 368-page condensation of over 2000 pages written by Ellison over a period of forty years. All the manuscripts of this incomplete novel will be published on June 17, 2008 by Modern Library, under the tentative title Three Days Before the Shooting.