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Wright, Richard 1908–1960

Richard Wright 19081960

Author

At a Glance

Memphis: Gateway to the North

Chicago: The Promised Land

New York: Capital of Art and Literature

Paris: Avant-Garde City of Lights

Selected writings

Sources

As a poor black child growing up in the Deep South, Richard Wright suffered poverty, hunger, racism, and violenceexperiences that later became central themes of his work. Wright stands as a major literary figure of the 1930s and 40s, his writings a departure from those of the Harlem Renaissance school. Steeped in the literary naturalism of the Depression era, Wrights work expresses a realistic and brutal portrayal of white societys oppression of African Americans. Anger and protest served as a catalyst for literature intended to promote social change by exposing the injustices of racism, economic exploitation, and imperialism. Through his art, Wright turned the torment of alienation into a voice calling for human solidarity and racial advancement.

Wright was born on September 8,1908, in the backwoods of Mississippi, on a plantation 25 miles north of Natchez, to a farmer and a schoolteacher. Descended from a family lineage of black, white, and Choctaw Indian, he spent the early years of his life playing among the moss-clad oaks along the Mississippi River. After failing to make a profit on his rented farm, Wrights father decided to move the family to Memphis, Tennessee. Upon arrival by paddleboat steamer in 1911, the Wrights took residence in a two-room tenement not far from Beale Street. To Wright, the concrete pavement appeared hostile and dreary compared to the pastoral serenity of his former home. In a city filled with brothels, saloons, and storefront churches, Wright encountered the terrors of violence, vice, and racism.

The increasing absence of his father fueled Wrights growing sense of anger and estrangement. By the time the boy was six years old, his father had deserted the family to live with another woman. At first, he was elated to be free from his fathers abusive behavior, but he soon realized that this newfound freedom brought severe poverty. The image of my father became associated with the pangs of hunger, wrote Wright in his autobiography Black Boy. Whenever I felt hunger, I thought of him with a deep biological bitterness. Left with two children to support, Wrights mother went to work as a housemaid and cook. After a brief period in an orphanage around 1915, Wright attended school for a short time at Howard Institute. This period in Memphis was the beginning of adult suffering, wrote poet Margaret Walker in her book Richard Wright, Daemonic Genius, the beginning of a terrible rage that he himself did not always understand.

Around 1919 the failing health of Wrights mother forced her to take the children to live with relatives in Arkansas. A year

At a Glance

Born September 8, 1908, in Adams County, MS; died of a heart attack November 28, 1960, in Paris, France; son of Nathan Nate (a farmer) and Ella Wilson (a schoolteacher) Wright; married Rose Dhimah Mead-man, 1939; married Ellen Poplar, 1941.

Published first story, The Voodoo of Hells Half Acre, 1924; worked variously as a dishwasher, busboy, porter, street sweeper, and group leader for a Chicago Boys Club; worked for U.S. Postal Service, Chicago, beginning in 1932; wrote poetry for leftist publications; attended American Writers Congress, New York City, 1935; prepared guidebooks for Federal Writers Project, mid-1930s; worked for Federal Theater Project, 1936; wrote for the Daily Worker, late 1930s; published Uncle Toms Children, 1938; published Native Son, 1940; published autobiography Black Boy, 1945; lectured, appeared on radio and television, and contributed to periodicals, late 1940s; attended Bandung Conference in Indonesia, 1955.

Awards: Guggenheim Fellowship, 1939; Works Progress Administration award, late 1930s; Spingarn Medal, NAACP, 1941, for Native Son.

later, the Wrights moved to Richards devoutly religious grandparents home in Jackson, Mississippi. The household was dominated by Wrights grandmother and Aunt Addie, both of whom were Seventh-Day Adventists. Because of his rebellious attitude toward evangelical teachings, Wright lived as an outsider within the family. Although nonreligious literature was forbidden, he managed to acquire pulp magazines, newspapers, and detective stories. Inspired by local folklore, country sermons, and popular literature, Wrights first story The Voodoo of Hells Half Acre, was published in 1924 by a local black newspaper. Undaunted by the familys criticism of his work, Wright aspired to become a writer.

Memphis: Gateway to the North

To pursue this dream, Wright shifted his attention northward, to a place where he could escape the hostility of southern rural evangelical culture. With only a ninth-grade education and little money in his pocket, Wright fled to Memphis at the age of 17. There he became acquainted with the work of H. L. Mencken. In the fiery prose of Mencken, Wright learned that words could serve as weap-ons with which to lash out at the world. Soon afterward, Wright discovered such naturalist writers as Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson, and Sinclair Lewis. As Arnold Rampersad stated in the introduction to Wrights Lawd Today, the authors avid study of serious literature in Memphis became the most effective counter to both his profound sense of isolation and the dismal education he received as a boy in Mississippi.

Unfortunately, Wright did not find the atmosphere of Memphis as enlightening as his private studies. Violence and hatred perpetrated by whites reinforced his dim view of the South. In November of 1927, Wright boarded a train bound for Chicago. His departure symbolized the end of a stay in an alien land where he existed as a non-man within the chasm of the black and white worlds.

Chicago: The Promised Land

Wrights family soon joined him in Chicago. Together they lived in a cramped apartment on the citys South Side. Bored with his studies, Wright left high school to help support the family. He took a number of odd jobs, working as a dishwasher, porter, busboy, street sweeper, and group leader at a South Side Boys Club. In 1932 Wright worked as a clerk at the Chicago post office. Nicknamed the University, the post office employed numerous radical intellectuals, some of whom invited Wright to attend the meetings of the John Reed Club, a revolutionary writers organization. While exposing him to Communist literature and Marxist ideology, club members encouraged Wright to pursue a professional writing career. Inspired by their support and enthusiasm, Wright began to write poetry for various left-wing publications.

Around this time, Wrights interest in race relations and radical thought led him to join the Communist party. Within the Communist ranks, he found, for the first time, a formidable peer group sharing a common goal of promoting racial and social equality. It seemed to me that here at last, in the realm of revolutionary expression, Wright stated in his contribution to the book The God That Failed, Negro experience could find a home, a functioning value and role. For a brief period, Wrights sense of loneliness subsided. Communism appeared to offer an alternative that could not only quell his own inner conflict, but the threat of poverty and racism confronting the disinherited peoples of all nations.

In 1935, after the Communist party disbanded the John Reed Clubs, Wright hitchhiked to New York, where, along with prominent writers like Langston Hughes, Malcolm Cowley, and Dreiser, he attended the American Writerss Congress. Back in Chicago that year, he found employment preparing guidebooks for the Federal Writers Project, a New Deal relief program for unemployed writers. Early in 1936, Wright was transferred for a short time to the Federal Theater Project. Wright also wrote for the Daily Worker and started work on a collection of short stories and a novel, posthumously published as Lawd Today in 1963.

Wrights burgeoning literary career, however, soon conflicted with his membership in the Communist party. In Chicago, his study of sociology, psychology, philosophy, and literature led him to question the rigid policies of Stalinism and the aesthetic aspects of socialist realism. He found that recruiting, organizing, and distributing party literature interfered with his writing assignments. Moreover, the expulsion of many fellow members and the constant questioning concerning his loyalty alerted Wright to the duplicitous and paranoid nature of the organization. Accused of betraying the party by several Chicago Communists in 1937, Wright tired of the Chicago scenedecided to leave for New York.

New York: Capital of Art and Literature

Not long after arriving in New York City, Wright won a Works Progress Administration award for his collection of novellas, published as Uncle Toms Children in 1938. Based on Wrights Mississippi boyhood, these stories were almost unbearable evocations of cruel realities, explained poet Arna Bontemps in Anger and Beyond. His purpose was to force open closed eyes, to compel America to look at what it had done to the black peasantry in which he was born.

For the better part of a year, Wright took time off from his jobs at the Writers Project and the Daily Worker to work on a novel. Published in 1940, Native Son became a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, selling over a quarter of a million copies in six months. By far Wrights most famous and financially successful book, Native Son is a militant racial manifesto exposing the evils of racism and the capitalist oppression of blacks in urban society. Based on the actual criminal case of convicted killer Robert Nixon, the book describes the story of Bigger Thomas, a street-hardened black youth who murders the daughter of a well-to-do white family while working as their chauffeur. Hunted down by white society, Bigger is sentenced to death by the very power structure responsible for his alienation, subjugation, and ultimate impulse to commit murder.

In 1941, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People awarded Wright the Spingarn Medal for Native Son. Another great honor was bestowed on Wright when actor-producers John Houseman and Orson Welles mounted a stage adaption of Native Son, featuring the outstanding actor Canada Lee in the role of Bigger. Also in 1941, Wright published his third book, Twelve Million Black Voices, a folk history featuring photographs by Edwin Rosskam. Following his formal break with the Communist party in 1944, Wright wrote an essay for the Atlantic Monthly entitled I Tried to Be a Communist, explaining his reasons for leaving the party. Wrights finest work of the decade, however, was his autobiography Black Boy. Published in 1945, Black Boy is a harrowing record of Wrights early years in the South. In a review in the Nation, noted literary scholar Lionel Trilling described Black Boy as a remarkable book of great distinction and purpose. Social scientists and historians continue to study the books impact on black and white society long after its publication.

Paris: Avant-Garde City of Lights

Encouraged by avant-garde writer Gertrude Stein, Wright expressed an interest in visiting France. In the spring of 1946, he embarked for Paris on an ocean steamer. The citys colorful streets and cultured citizenry greatly impressed Wright. Stein introduced him to a number of leading French intellectuals, including Claude Magny and Maurice Nadeau. Wright went back to New York in January of 1947. He intended to resume work there, but rampant racism and the anti-radicalism of the Cold War era made him restless to return to France. In May of 1948, Wright moved into an apartment on Pariss Left Bank.

In permanent exile in Paris, Wright enjoyed celebrity status. He spent a great deal of time lecturing throughout Europe and appearing on radio and television. Besides his close association with existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and the members of the Les Temps Modernes group, Wright became an active member of the Pan-African organization Presence Africaine. His 1953 novel, The Outsider, exemplifies the increasing influence of existentialism on his work. Black Power, completed following his trip to Ghana in 1954, presents a Pan-African perspective. After attending a 29-nation gathering of representatives of African and Asian countries at the Bandung Conference in Indonesia, Wright wrote The Color Curtain, which appeared in 1956. A year later, he produced a travelogue, Pagan Spain, based on his observations of Spanish culture, politics, and religion. Up until his death from a heart attack in Paris in 1960, Wright continued to work on several literary projects, including a collection of short stories, Eight Men, published posthumously in 1961.

From the depths of the Mississippi Delta to the cities of Europe, Africa, and Asia, Richard Wright emerged an international literary figure championing the cause of social and racial justice. Poet, writer, social critic, and journalist, Wright authored about a dozen books and numerous poems and essays, most of which address the evils of racism and mans inhumanity to man. Wrights unrelentingly bleak language was not merely of the Deep South or Chicago, commented writer James Baldwin in an essay titled Alas Poor Richard, but that of the human heart. It was Wrights destiny, as he himself wrote in The God That Failed, to hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo...no matter how faintly. Decades after his death, Wrights words still reverberate across the worldtheir dark and ominous tone embodying a message of hope for all humanity.

Selected writings

Uncle Toms Children: Four Novellas, Harper & Brothers, 1938.

Native Son, Harper & Brothers, 1940.

Twelve Million Black Voices: A Folk History of the Negro in the United States, Viking, 1941.

Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth, Harper & Brothers, 1945.

The Outsider, 1953.

Black Power, Harper & Brothers, 1954.

Savage Holiday, Avon, 1954.

The Color Curtain, World, 1956.

Pagan Spain, Harper & Brothers, 1957.

White Man Listen, Doubleday, 1957.

Long Dream, Doubleday, 1958.

Eight Men, World, 1961.

Lawd Today, Walker, 1963.

(Contributor) The God That Failed, edited by Richard Crossman, Books for Libraries Series, 1972.

American Hunger, Harper & Row, 1977.

Sources

Books

Alexander, Charles C., Nationalism in American Thought: 1930-1945, Rand McNally, 1969.

American Writers: A Collection of Literary Biographies, Vol.IV, edited by Leonard Unger, Scribners, 1974.

Anger and Beyond, edited by Herbert Hill, Harper & Row, 1966.

Baldwin, James, Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son (includes Alas Poor Richard), Dial Press, 1961.

Bell, Bernard W., The Afro-American Novel and Its Tradition, University of Massachusetts Press, 1987.

Crunden, Robert, From Self to Society: 1919-1941, Prentice Hall, 1972.

The God That Failed, edited by Richard Crossman, Books for Libraries Series, 1972.

Richard Wright Reader, edited by Ellen Wright and Michel Fabre, Harper & Row, 1978.

Walker, Margaret, Richard Wright, Daemonic Genius: A Portrait of the Man, A Critical Look at His Work, Warner Books, 1988.

Wright, Richard, Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth, Harper & Brothers, 1945.

Wright, Richard, Lawd Today, introduction by Arnold Rampersad, Northeastern University Press, 1986.

Wright, Richard, Native Son, Harper & Brothers, 1940.

Periodicals

Nation, April 1945.

John Cohassey

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Wright, Richard

Richard Wright

Born: September 4, 1908
Natchez, Mississippi
Died: November 25, 1960
Paris, France

African American writer

The works of Richard Wright, a politically sophisticated and socially involved African American author, are notable for their passionate sincerity. He was perceptive about the universal problems that had the ability to destroy mankind.

Southern upbringing

Richard Nathaniel Wright was born in Natchez, Mississippi, on September 4, 1908. His mother was a country school teacher and his father an illiterate (a person who is unable to read or write) sharecropper, a poor farmer who shares land with other farmers. The family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1914, and soon the father abandoned them. From then on Richard's education was inconsistent, but he had attained experience beyond his years. He bounced from school to school and desperately tried to make friends and fit in with his fellow classmates.

Wright knew what it was to be a victim of racial hatred before he learned to read, for he was living with an aunt when her husband was lynched (brutally attacked or killed because of one's race). Richard's formal education ended after the ninth grade in Jackson, Mississippi. The fact that his "The Voodoo of Hell's Half-acre" had been published in the local black paper set him apart from his classmates. He was a youth upon whom a dark spirit had already settled.

Becoming a writer

At nineteen Wright decided he wanted to be a writer. He moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he had access to public libraries. He read all he could of Feodor Dostoevsky (18211881), Theodore Dreiser (18711945), Henry James (18431916), and William James (18421910). His interest in social problems led to a friendship with the sociologist (a person who studies the interactions of a society) Louis Wirth. When Richard's mother, brother, and an aunt came to Chicago, he supported them as a postal clerk until the job ended in 1929. After months of living on public welfare, he got a job in the Federal Negro Theater Project in the Works Progress Administration, a government relief agency. Later he became a writer for the Illinois Writers' Project.

Meantime, Wright had joined the John Reed Club, beginning an association with the Communist Party, a political party that believes goods and services should be owned and distributed by a strong central government. His essays, reviews, short stories, and poems appeared regularly in communist papers, and by 1937, when he became Harlem editor of the Daily Worker, he enjoyed a considerable reputation in left-wing circles. Four novellas (short novels), published as Uncle Tom's Children (1938), introduced him to a large general audience.

Native Son

Wright's first novel, Native Son (1940), a brutally honest depiction of black, urban, ghetto life, was an immediate success. The story's protagonist, or main character, represents all the fear, rage, rebellion, spiritual hunger and the undisciplined drive to satisfy it, that social psychologists (people who are trained to study the mental and behavioral characteristics of people) were just beginning to recognize as common elements in the personality of the poor people of all races.

Wright's intention was to make the particular truth universal (all around) and to project his native son as a symbol of the poorly treated in all lands. Critics, however, unimpressed by the universal symbol, were interested instead in Wright's passionate criticisms of white racism (belief that one race is superior to another) and the lifestyle it imposed upon African Americans. Wright believed that there was a better way of social organization different from democracy (government by the people), and that Communism could be the better way. These ideas were toned down in the stage version. In 1941 Wright also published Twelve Million Black Voices: A Folk History of the Negro of the United States.

By 1940 Wright had married and divorced; and a few months after his second marriage, he broke with the Communist Party. (His "I Tried To Be a Communist," published in the Atlantic in 1944, was reprinted in 1949 in The God That Failed, edited by Richard Crossman.) The break freed him from social commitments that were beginning to seem troublesome. In Black Boy, a fictionalized autobiography (book written about oneself), his only commitment is to truth. The book was published in January 1945, and sales reached four hundred thousand copies by March. Wright accepted an invitation from the French government to visit France, and the three-month experience, in sharp contrast to his experience in his own country, "exhilarated" (excited and refreshed) him with a "sense of freedom." People of the highest intellectual and artistic circles met him "as an equal."

Years overseas

Wright, his wife, and daughter moved permanently to Paris, France. Within a year and a half Wright was off to Argentina, where he "starred" in the film version of Native Son. The Outsider, the first of three novels written in France, was deeply influenced by existentialism, a philosophy that stresses the individual experience in the universe, whose most famous spokespersons, Jean Paul Sartre (19051980) and Simone de Beauvoir (19081986), were Wright's close friends. Following Savage Holiday (1954), a potboiler (a book, that is usually of poorer quality, written to make money), The Long Dream (1958) proved that Wright had been too long out of touch with the American reality to deal with it effectively. None of the novels written in France succeeded. His experiments with poetry did not produce enough for a book.

Nonfiction works

In 1953 Wright visited Africa, where he hoped to "discover his roots" as a black man. Black Power (1954) combines the elements of a travel book with a passionate political treatise, or formal writing, on the "completely different order of life" in Africa. In 1955 he attended the Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung, Indonesia, and published his impressions in The Color Curtain (1956). Pagan Spain (1956), based on two months in Spain, is the best of his nonfiction works. White Man, Listen (1957) is a collection of four long essays on "White-colored, East-West relations."

In 1960, following an unhappy attempt to settle in England, and in the midst of a rugged lecture schedule, Wright fell ill. He entered a hospital in Paris on November 25 and died three days later. Eight Men (1961), a collection of short stories, and Lawd Today (1963), a novel, were published after his death.

For More Information

Fabre, Michel. Richard Wright: Books and Writers. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1990.

Rowley, Hazel. Richard Wright: The Life and Times. New York: Henry Holt, 2001.

Walker, Margaret. Richard Wright, Daemonic Genius: A Portrait of the Man, a Critical Look at His Work. New York: Warner Books, 1988.

Webb, Constance. Richard Wright; a Biography. New York: Putnam, 1968.

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Richard Wright

Richard Wright

The works of Richard Wright (1908-1960), politically sophisticated and socially involved African American author, are notable for their passionate sincerity. He was perceptive about the universal problems that plague mankind.

Richard Wright was born in Natchez, Miss., on Sept. 4, 1908. His mother was a country school teacher and his father an illiterate sharecropper. The family moved to Memphis, Tenn., in 1914, and soon the father abandoned them. Richard's schooling was spotty, but he had experiences beyond his years. He knew what it was to be a victim of racial hatred before he learned to read, for he was living with an aunt when her husband was lynched by a white mob. Richard's formal education ended after the ninth grade in Jackson, Miss. The fact that his "The Voodoo of Hell's Half-acre" had been published in the local black paper set him apart from his classmates. He was a youth upon whom a "somberness of spirit" had already settled.

At 19 Wright decided he wanted to be a writer. He moved to Chicago, where he had access to public libraries. He read all he could of Dostoevsky, Theodore Dreiser, and Henry and William James. His interest in social problems led to an acquaintance with the sociologist Louis Wirth. When Richard's mother, brother, and an aunt came to Chicago, he supported them as a postal clerk until the job ended in 1929. After months of living on public welfare, he got a job in the Federal Negro Theater Project in the Works Progress Administration, a government relief agency. Later he became a writer for the Illinois Writers' Project.

Meantime, Wright had joined the John Reed Club, beginning an association with the Communist party. His essays, reviews, short stories, and poems appeared regularly in Communist papers, and by 1937, when he became Harlem editor of the Daily Worker, he enjoyed a considerable reputation in left-wing circles. Four novellas, published as Uncle Tom's Children (1938), introduced him to a large general audience.

Native Son

Wright's first novel, Native Son (1940), a brutally honest depiction of black, urban ghetto life, was an immediate success. The story's protagonist embodies all the fear, rage, and rebellion, all the spiritual hunger and the undisciplined drive to satisfy it, that social psychologists were just beginning to recognize as common elements in the personality of the underprivileged and dispossessed of all races.

Wright's intention was to make the particular truth universal and to project his native son as a symbol of the deprived in all lands. Contemporary critics, however, un-impressed by the universal symbol, were interested instead in Wright's passionate indictment of white racism and the life-style it imposed upon blacks. Wright's implication that there was another and a better way of social organization than democracy, and that communism was perhaps that better way, also impressed them. This implication was toned down in the stage version (1941). In 1941 Wright also published Twelve Million Black Voices: A Folk History of the Negro of the United States.

Black Boy

By 1940 Wright had married and divorced; and a few months after his second marriage, he broke with the communist party. (His "I Tried To Be a Communist," published in the Atlantic in 1944, was reprinted in 1949 in The God That Failed, edited by Richard Crossman.) The break freed him from social and ideological commitments that were beginning to seem onerous. In Black Boy, a fictionalized autobiography, his only commitment is to truth. The book was published in January 1945, and sales reached 400,000 copies by March. Wright accepted an invitation from the French government to visit France, and the three-month experience, in sharp contrast to his experience in his own country, "exhilarated" him with a "sense of freedom." People of the highest intellectual and artistic circles met him "as an equal."

Expatriate Years

Wright and his wife and daughter moved permanently to Paris. Within a year and a half Wright was off to Argentina, where he "starred" in the film version of Native Son.

The Outsider, the first of three novels written in France, was deeply influenced by the existentialists, whose most famous spokesmen, Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, were Wright's warm friends. Following Savage Holiday (1954), a potboiler, The Long Dream (1958) proved that Wright had been too long out of touch with the American reality to deal with it effectively. None of the novels written in France succeeded. His experiments with poetry did not produce enough for a book.

Nonfiction Works

In 1953 Wright visited Africa, where he hoped to "discover his roots" as a black man. Black Power (1954) combines the elements of a travel book with a passionate political treatise on the "completely different order of life" in Africa. In 1955 he attended the Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung and published his impressions in The Color Curtain (1956). Pagan Spain (1956), based on two months in Spain, is the best of his nonfiction works. White Man, Listen (1957) is a collection of four long essays on "White-colored, East-West relations."

In 1960, following an unhappy attempt to settle in England, and in the midst of a rugged lecture schedule, Wright fell ill. He entered a hospital in Paris on November 25 and died three days later. Eight Men (1961), a collection of short stories, and Lawd Today (1963), a novel, were published posthumously.

Further Reading

Constance Webb, Richard Wright (1968), is a "definitive" but dull biography. Full-length critical works are Edward Margolies, The Art of Richard Wright (1969), which emphasizes Wright's role in paving the way for a new generation of Negro authors; Dan McCall, The Example of Richard Wright (1969), a fascinating critique; and Russell C. Brignano, Richard Wright: An Introduction to the Man and His Works (1970). See also Robert Bone, Richard Wright (1969), a brief perspective. James Baldwin's "Alas, Poor Richard" in his Nobody Knows My Name (1961) is not to be trusted as a delineation of an episode in Wright's life, and its condescending tone spoils it as literary criticism. David Littlejohn's discussion of Wright in his Black on White: A Critical Survey of Writing by American Negroes (1966) is worth reading if only to see how misprized a major black novelist can be. □

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Wright, Richard

Richard Wright, 1908–60, American author. An African American born on a Mississippi plantation, Wright struggled through a difficult childhood and worked to educate himself. He moved to Chicago in 1927 and in the 1930s joined the city's Federal Writers' Project and wrote Uncle Tom's Children (1938), a collection of four novellas dealing with Southern racial problems. His novel Native Son (1940), which many consider Wright's most important work, concerns the life of Bigger Thomas, a victimized African American struggling against the complicated political and social conditions of Chicago in the 1930s. In 1932, Wright joined the Communist party but later left it in disillusionment. After World War II, Wright moved to Paris. His Black Boy (1945), also regarded as one of his finest works, is an account of his childhood and youth. Other works include Twelve Million Black Voices (1941), a folk history of African Americans; American Hunger (1977), a two-part autobiography; The Outsider (1953) and The Long Dream (1958), two novels; Black Power (1954), an account of his trip to the Gold Coast (Ghana); and Eight Men (1961), a collection of stories published posthumously. Originally censored by his publishers due to their racial, political, or sexual candor, Wright's works were reissued unexpurgated in 1991.

See biographies by C. Webb (1968), M. Fabre (tr. 1973), A. Gayle (1980), M. Walker (1988), and H. Rowley (2001); studies by D. McCall (1969), K. Kinnamon (1973), and D. Ray and R. M. Farnsworth, ed. (1973).

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Wright, Richard

Wright, Richard (1908–60) US novelist. He is best known for the novel Native Son (1940), which describes the life of an African-American youth in white-dominated Chicago, and Black Boy (1945), an account of the author's boyhood in the South. He also wrote short stories and non-fiction.

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