Sherley Anne Williams was born in Bakersfield, California and was an African-American poet. Many of her works tell stories about her life in the African-American community. When she was little her family picked cotton in order to get money. At the age of eight her father died of tuberculosis and when she was sixteen her mother died. In 1966 she earned her bachelors degree in English at what is now California State University at Fresno and she received her master's degree at Brown University in 1972. The following year (1973) she became a professor of English Literature at the University of California at San Diego. Her works include collections of poetry such as The Peacock Poems (1975), the novel Dessa Rose (1986), and two picture books.