Lorraine Hansberry won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play of the Year at the age of twenty-nine, making her the youngest American, fifth woman, and first black playwright to do so. Her novel A Raisin in the Sun has been published and produced in more than 30 countries, and her film adaptation was nominated for Best Screenplay by New York critics and won a Cannes Film Festival Award. Lorraine Hansberry died of cancer at the age of thirty-four, during the run of her second play, The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window. Her renown has only grown in the years since her death. To Be Young, Talented, and Black, a dramatic biography of the writer told in her own words, was the longest-running Off-Broadway drama of 1969, and has been recorded, filmed, and expanded into a book, as well as touring an unprecedented forty states and two hundred universities.
During the 25th anniversary stage staging of A Raisin in the Sun by the Roundabout Theatre in New York City in 1986, the play was universally regarded as one of the greatest American classics. The PBS American Playhouse TV adaptation of the 25th-anniversary version garnered one of the greatest viewing crowds in PBS history when it premiered in 1990. Les Blancs, her final play, which was produced posthumously on Broadway and subsequently in notable regional theaters, has been acclaimed as her best by a number of critics.