African-American writer, son of a minister and a schoolteacher; graduated from Virginia Union College in 1937 and went on to graduate studies at Fisk, Columbia, and New York University. Pharr lived most of his adult life in New York, moving from race track to race track to follow the racing seasons and waiting tables to support himself and his writing. At the Columbia University faculty club, Pharr bravely asked an English professor to read his 750-page manuscript. The professor was impressed and the result was the publication in 1969 of 'The Book of Numbers'. He donated his papers and manuscripts to the L. Douglas Wilder Library at Virginia Union University.