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Author photo. Richard Wright (1908-1960)<br>
Photograph by Gordon Parks, May 1943
<br>(Farm Security Administration-<br>Office of War Information Photograph Collection,<br> Library of Congress)

Richard Wright (1908-1960)
Photograph by Gordon Parks, May 1943
(Farm Security Administration-
Office of War Information Photograph Collection,
Library of Congress)

Richard Wright (1) [1908–1960]

This page covers the author of Native Son.

For other authors named Richard Wright, see the disambiguation page.

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Richard Wright was generally thought of as one of the most gifted contemporary African American writers until the rise of James Baldwin. "With Wright, the pain of being a Negro is basically economic---its sight is mainly in the pocket. With Baldwin, the pain suffuses the whole man. . . . If Baldwin's sights are higher than Wright's, it is in part because Wright helped to raise them" (Time). Wright was born on a plantation near Natchez, Mississippi, the son of a sharecropper. At the age of 15, he started to work in Memphis, then in Chicago, then "bummed all over the country," supporting himself by various odd jobs. His early writing was in the smaller magazines---first poetry, then prose. He won Story Story's $500 prize---for the best story written by a worker on the Writer's Project---with "Uncle Tom's Children" in 1938, his first important publication. He wrote Native Son (1940) in eight months, and it made his reputation. Based in part on the actual case of a young black murderer of a white woman, it was one of the first of the African American protest novels, violent and shocking in its scenes of cruelty, hunger, rape, murder, flight, and prison. Black Boy (1945) is the simple, vivid, and poignant story of Wright's early years in the South. It appeared at the beginning of a new postwar awareness of the evils of racial prejudice and did much to call attention to the plight of the African American. The Outsider (1953) is a novel based on Wright's own experience as a member of the Communist party, an affiliation he terminated in 1944. He remained politically inactive thereafter and from 1946 until his death made his principal residence in Paris. His nonfiction writings on problems of his race include Black Power: A Record of Reactions in a Land of Pathos (1954), about a visit to the Gold Coast, White Man, Listen (1957), and Twelve Million Black Voices: A Folk History of the Negro in the United States. (Bowker Author Biography) Richard Wright was born on a plantation near Natchez, Mississippi. His father left the family when Wright was only five years old, and he was raised first by his mother and then by a series of relatives. What little schooling he had ended with his graduation from ninth grade in Memphis, Tennessee. At age 15, he started to work in Memphis, and later worked in Chicago before traveling across the country supporting himself with odd jobs. When Wright finally returned to Chicago, he got a job with the federal Writer's Project, a government-supported arts program. He was quite successful, winning a $500 prize from a magazine for the best fiction written by a participant in that program. In Chicago, he was also introduced to leftist politics and became a member of the Communist Party. In 1937, Wright left Chicago for New York, where he became Harlem editor for the Communist national newspaper, The Daily Worker, and where he met future novelist, Ralph Ellison. Wright became a celebrated author with the publication of Native Son (1940), a novel he wrote in only eight months. Based on the actual case of a young black murderer of a white woman, it was one of the first of the modern black protest novels, violent and shocking in its sense of cruelty, hunger, rape, murder, flight, and prison. This novel brought Wright both fame and financial security. He followed it with his autobiography, Black Boy (1945), which was also successful. In 1942, Wright and his wife broke with the Communist Party, and in 1947, they moved to France, where Wright lived the rest of his life. His novel The Outsider (1953) is based on his experiences as a member of the Communist Party. Wright is regarded as a major modern American writer, one of the first black writers to reach a large white audience, and thereby raise the level of national awareness of the continuing problem of racism in America. In many respects Wright paved the way for all black writers who followed him. (Bowker Author Biography)
— biography from Native Son
… (more)
Native Son 7,020 copies, 87 reviews
Black Boy 4,639 copies, 61 reviews
Uncle Tom's Children 647 copies, 1 review
The Outsider 349 copies, 7 reviews
Eight Men: Short Stories 227 copies, 2 reviews
Native Son (Abridged) 172 copies, 1 review
The Man Who Lived Underground 167 copies, 9 reviews
Rite of passage 159 copies
American Hunger 157 copies, 1 review
12 Million Black Voices 135 copies, 1 review
Haiku: This Other World 117 copies, 4 reviews
Pagan Spain 102 copies
The Long Dream 90 copies
The Best American Short Stories of the Century (Contributor) 1,464 copies, 9 reviews
Winter Poems (Contributor) 938 copies, 10 reviews
Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama (Contributor, some editions) 853 copies, 7 reviews
The Best American Essays of the Century (Contributor) 697 copies, 4 reviews
The Oxford Book of American Short Stories (Contributor) 680 copies, 2 reviews
The God That Failed (Contributor) 392 copies, 3 reviews
The Portable Harlem Renaissance Reader (Contributor) 366 copies, 2 reviews
A Treasury of Short Stories (Contributor) 269 copies
Modern American Memoirs (Contributor) 179 copies, 2 reviews
This Is My Best (Contributor) 162 copies
Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City (Introduction, some editions) 151 copies, 3 reviews
The Signet Classic Book of Southern Short Stories (Contributor) 112 copies, 1 review
Voices from the Harlem Renaissance (Contributor) 87 copies
The 100 Best African American Poems (Contributor) 84 copies, 5 reviews
American Short Stories (Contributor, some editions) 81 copies
Racism and Sexism: An Integrated Study (Contributor) 54 copies, 1 review
American Negro Short Stories (Contributor) 53 copies
D.C. Noir 2: The Classics (Contributor) 52 copies
Eleven Modern Short Novels (Contributor) 49 copies, 1 review
Chicago Noir: The Classics (Contributor) 41 copies, 13 reviews
Soulscript: Afro-American Poetry (Contributor) 37 copies, 1 review
Southern Dogs and Their People (Contributor) 36 copies
Mississippi Writers: An Anthology (Contributor) 13 copies
Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City, Volume I (Introduction, some editions) 10 copies, 1 review
Native Son [1951 film] (Actor / Original book) 5 copies
Twelve short novels (Contributor) 3 copies
Strange Barriers (Contributor) 2 copies
20th century (288) African American (689) African American literature (141) African Americans (140) African-American Literature (133) America (60) American (238) American literature (465) anthology (662) autobiography (233) biography (155) Chicago (172) classic (197) classics (188) collection (78) communism (117) essays (235) fiction (1,929) Harlem Renaissance (60) history (169) Library of America (123) literature (645) memoir (268) murder (86) non-fiction (462) novel (332) own (81) poetry (605) politics (68) race (328) race relations (60) racism (292) read (151) Richard Wright (99) short stories (659) textbook (68) to-read (831) unread (109) USA (150) winter (115)

Richard Wright has 2 past events. (show)

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alum

Richard Wright's book Chicago Noir: The Classics was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

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Average: (3.96)
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1 34
1.5 11
2 124
2.5 22
3 530
3.5 131
4 990
4.5 113
5 872

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