Richard Wright

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).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Richard Wright: Selected full-text books and articles

Student Companion to Richard Wright By Robert Felgar Greenwood Press, 2000
Black Boy, Notes By Carl Senna Cliffs Notes, 1971
Librarian’s tip: This is the CliffsNotes on Richard Wright's Black Boy
Richard Wright's Native Son By Harold Bloom Chelsea House, 1988
The Richard Wright Encyclopedia By Jerry W. Ward Jr.; Robert J. Butler Greenwood Press, 2008
The Critical Response to Richard Wright By Robert J. Butler Greenwood Press, 1995
The World of Richard Wright By Michel Fabre University Press of Mississippi, 1985
The Art of Richard Wright By Edward Margolies Southern Illinois University Press, 1969
Voice of a Native Son: The Poetics of Richard Wright By Eugene E. Miller University Press of Mississippi, 1990
The Afro-American Novel and Its Tradition By Bernard W. Bell University of Massachusetts Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Richard Wright and the Triumph of Naturalism"
The Racial Problem in the Works of Richard Wright and James Baldwin By Jean-François Gounardoo; Joseph J. Rodgers Jr Greenwood Press, 1992
A Fatherless Child: Autobiographical Perspectives on African American Men By Tara T. Green University of Missouri Press, 2009
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Richard Wright’s Fathers and Sons"
Richard Wright's Travel Writings: New Reflections By Virginia Whatley Smith University Press of Mississippi, 2001
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