Wright, Richard, 1908-1960

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African-American author known for candidly addressing race relations and the devastating impact of racial prejudice; best known for his works, "Uncle Tom's Children," "Black Boy," and "Native Son."

From the description of Letter, signed : New York, NY, to Mr. Goldschmidt, 26 January 1947. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 62718973

American author.

From the description of Correspondence and photographs, 1938-1957. (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 122601929

Richard Wright (1908-1960), journalist, novelist and lecturer, author of Native Son and Black Boy.

From the description of Richard Wright papers, 1927-1978. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702136907

Prominent author. Wright wrote several novels, short stories, and essays dealing with the oppression of black people in the United States and their struggle for freedom.

From the guide to the Richard Wright collection, 1935-1967, (The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.)

Richard Wright was an African-American writer and editor, noted for his short stories and the novel Native son. His authoritative and uncompromising portrayal of African Americans transcended literature, informing philosophy, psychology, sociology, and history throughout the 20th century.

From the description of Richard Wright letter to E. Ording, 1940 Apr. 29. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 49692940

Richard Wright (1908-1960), journalist, novelist and lecturer, author of Native Son and Black Boy.

Margaret Ellen Barnes was a poet and officer in the U.S. Army. She was the daughter of Margaret Barnes, founder and editor of the Ohio Federation of Colored Women's Clubs.

From the description of Richard Wright letters to Margaret Ellen Barnes, 1938-1940. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702183402

Prominent author.

Wright wrote several novels, short stories, and essays dealing with the oppression of black people in the United States and their struggle for freedom.

From the description of Richard Wright collection, 1935-1967. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 144652176

Richard Nathaniel Wright was born September 4, 1908 near Natchez, Mississippi, to Ella Wilson Wright, a schoolteacher, and Nathan Wright, a sharecropper. The story of Richard Wright's childhood, with its harrowing episodes of abandonment by his father, his temporary consignment to an orphanage after his mother became ill, and his short-lived schooling under the harsh guardianship of his grandmother have been detailed in his autobiography, Black Boy (published in 1945 by Harper & Row).

Wright's break with his past began in 1927, when he left the South for the more hopeful environs of Chicago. There, he worked at a number of different jobs, continued to educate himself by reading and began to write. During the early years of the Depression, Wright found himself attracted to local Communist groups, eventually joining the Chicago John Reed Club. His entrance into this exciting political milieu was matched by an increasingly prolific output of writing. He published poetry in left-wing journals such as New Masses and The Anvil, and began working on early versions of Lawd Today and Tarbaby's Dawn . In 1935, he was employed by the Illinois Federal Writers Project, which further strengthened his hopes of being a published author.

Wright moved to New York in 1937 to act as the head of the Harlem Bureau of The Daily Worker . His first major break came the following year, when he submitted four long stories for a contest sponsored by Story magazine and won a publishing contract. The collection, published as Uncle Tom's Children, garnered sympathetic reviews and secured Wright an agent and a hopeful future as a novelist.

The work Wright proposed next was to be a deeply realistic account of oppression and black rage. With the assistance of a Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Wright spent much of 1939 writing Native Son . Harper & Row published the novel on March 1, 1940. The resulting sales and critical acclaim for the book placed Wright in the position as the most well-known black author in America. In January, 1941, he was awarded the Spingarn Medal by the NAACP.

Though Wright was constantly working on several different novels intended to follow Native Son, he switched the focus of his creative endeavors to different forms of writing. Late in 1940, he began a stage adaptation of Native Son in collaboration with Paul Green. The production debuted in early 1941 on Broadway in a production staged by Orson Welles. The summer of that year saw the publication of a collection of photographs of black Americans, 12 Million Black Americans, accompanied by a discursive essay by Wright, and a collaboration with Count Basie on a jazz song, "Joe Louis Blues."

In March 1941, Wright married Ellen Poplar. (A brief marriage to Rose Dhima Meadman had ended in divorce in 1938). Richard and Ellen Wright would have two children, Julia, in 1942, and Rachael in 1949.

Between 1943-45, while Wright tried his hand at other fields of the arts, such as screenwriting, he concentrated on writing his autobiography. The finished draft, known as "American Hunger," was cut in half by the time it was ready for publication. The resulting work, Black Boy, thus details Wright's life only from the time he was born to the point of his departure from the South in 1927. Though sections of the suppressed later sections of the book appeared in print in various places in subsequent years, the original work was only completely "published" posthumously with the appearance of American Hunger in 1977.

In 1946, at the invitation of the French Government, Wright visited France for a period of six months. He returned the following year with his family to live and remained there until his death. The translation of his books and stories into French clinched his growing popularity in that country. While at work on a second novel, Wright took time off between 1949-51 to work on the film version of Native Son . Having found a partner in the French director Pierre Chenal, Wright adapted his most well-known work to this medium and prepared to play the role of Bigger Thomas, himself. The movie, shot in Argentina and alternately titled Sangre Negra, debuted in America in 1951 to less than enthusiastic reviews and even a legal action which successfully banned its projection in several states.

In 1953, Wright reaffirmed his stature as a novelist by publishing, The Outsider, on which he had been working since the publication of Black Boy . This was followed a year later by a shorter work, Savage Holiday . For the rest of the decade, Wright concentrated on reportorial writing. He describes his 1953 trip to the Gold Coast of Africa in Black Power: A Record of Reactions in a Land of Pathos . His attendance at the Bandung Conference in Indonesia in 1955 is the subject of The Color Curtain . His commentary and analysis of the culture of Spain was published in 1956 as Pagan Spain . White Man, Listen!, which appeared in 1957, brought together four essays and lectures, on which Wright had been working for many years.

Wright returned once again to the novel form in 1958, publishing The Long Dream, a work that was quickly adapted by Ketti Frings for the stage. It debuted on Broadway in 1959 and ran for five performances. Wright's own adaptation of Louis Sapin's "Papa, Bon Dieu" (as "Daddy Goodness") also suffered a short life, its production abandoned in the Spring of 1959 (before finally being staged in New York in 1968). In 1959, Wright pursued the possibility of moving his family to England, but faced ultimate rejection from the immigration authorities. This, coupled with failing health, slowed his preparation of a collection of short stories. In late November, 1960, Wright was admitted to a clinic in Paris to undergo medical examinations. While resting at the clinic, he died of a heart attack on November 28, 1960, at the age of 52.

From the guide to the Richard Wright papers, 1927-1978, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Green, Paul, 1894-1981. Paul Eliot Green papers, 1917-1968. University of North Carolina at Greensboro, University Libraries, UNCG University Libraries
creatorOf Wright, Richard, 1908-1960. Galley proof from a dramatization of "Native Son", 1941. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Wright, Richard, 1908-1960. Letter to Frank Luther Mott. [s.l.]. 1940 Aug. 24. University of Iowa Libraries
referencedIn Xavier University of Louisiana. Richard Wright collection, 1896-1994, bulk 1940-1944. Xavier University of Louisiana, XULA
referencedIn Ida Guggenheimer papers, 1944-1953 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
creatorOf Wright, Richard, 1908-1960. Letter, signed : New York, NY, to Mr. Goldschmidt, 26 January 1947. University of Michigan
creatorOf Atkinson, Brooks, 1894-1984,. Saturday review book review letters received, 1958-1967 (bulk 1960-1962). Pennsylvania State University Libraries
referencedIn Wertham, Fredric, 1895-1981. Papers, 1818-1986 (bulk 1945-1975). Library of Congress
creatorOf William A. Bradley Literary Agency, 1923-1982. William A. Bradley Literary Agency Records 1909-1982. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn James, C. L. R. (Cyril Lionel Robert), 1901-1989. C.L.R. James letters, 1939-1981 (bulk 1939-1946) Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn [Native Son movie archive]. [1950-1951]. University of Pittsburgh
creatorOf Frings, Ketti. The long dream : a new play / by Ketti Frings. University of California, Davis, Shields Library
referencedIn Wertham, Fredric, 1895-1981. Fredric Wertham papers, 1818-1986 (bulk 1945-1975). Library of Congress
referencedIn Guggenheimer, Ida, 1866-1959. Ida Guggenheimer papers, 1944-1953. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Wright, Richard, 1908-1960. Richard Wright papers, 1927-1978. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Tiger's eye records, 1939-1955. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Modern Authors' Collection, 1909-1982 bulk (1930-1960). University of Notre Dame, Hesburgh Library
creatorOf Ellison, Ralph. Negro and the war : Typescript, undated. Harvard University, Houghton Library
referencedIn Gremley, William H., 1913-1992. William H. Gremley papers, 1941-1988. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
referencedIn Lewis Gannett papers, 1681-1966 (inclusive) 1900-1960 (bulk). Houghton Library.
creatorOf Wright, Richard, 1908-1960. Correspondence and photographs, 1938-1957. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Ruth Fischer papers, 1925-1961 (inclusive) 1940-1961 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Webb, Constance. Constance Webb papers, 1918-2005 [Bulk Dates: 1939-2002]. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Ellison, Ralph. Ralph Ellison papers, 1890-2005 (bulk 1930-1994). Library of Congress
referencedIn McCall, Dan. Office files of The American Poetry Review, 1977. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf De Pereda, Prudencio, 1912- . Papers, 1935-1973. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Green, Paul, 1894-1981. Paul Green papers, 1880-1985. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf Algren, Nelson, 1909-1981. Papers, [ca.1930-1979]. State Library of Ohio
referencedIn Stein, Gertrude, 1874-1946. Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas papers, 1837-1961. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Reynolds, Anita Thompson Dickinson, 1901-1980. Anita Thompson Dickinson Reynolds collection, 1850-1980. Moorland-Spingarn Resource Center
creatorOf Wright, Richard, 1908-1960. Untitled speech, on African-American literature [manuscript] / by Richard Wright, undated. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Papers, 1871-1972 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
referencedIn C.L.R. James letters, 1939-1981, 1939-1946 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
creatorOf Richard Wright collection, 1935-1967 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
referencedIn Jerome, V. J. (Victor Jeremy), 1896-1965. Victor Jeremy Jerome papers, 1923-1967 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Ellison, Ralph. Oral history interview with Ralph Ellison [sound recording] / interviewed by James Lafky and Truman Hayes. University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, Murphy Library
creatorOf Richard Wright papers, 1927-1978 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Stein, Gertrude, 1874-1946. Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas papers, 1837-1961. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Cayton, Horace R. (Horace Roscoe), 1903-1970. Horace Roscoe Cayton correspondence, 1963-1969. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Wright, Richard, 1908-1960. Richard Wright letters to Margaret Ellen Barnes, 1938-1940. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn United States Work Projects Administration Records, 1524-1975, (bulk 1935-1942) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Fabre, Michel. Michel Fabre archives of African American arts and letters, 1910-2003. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
creatorOf Elder, Lonne. Native Son / screenplay by Lonne Elder, III : typescript, based on the novel by Richard Wright, 1976. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Billops, Camille. Camille Billops and James V. Hatch archives at Emory University. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
referencedIn Kennedy, Stetson,. Stetson Kennedy oral history interview, 1988 Dec. 31. Georgia State University
referencedIn Cheuse, Alan. Videocassettes, compact disks and diskettes from the papers of Alan Cheuse [manuscript],ca. 1992-2004. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Overholser, Grace McSpadden, d. 1971. Grace McSpadden Overholser papers, 1971-1972 and undated. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Shrader (Firm : Little Rock, Ark.),. Richard L. Wright [graphic] / Shrader [photographer]. Arkansas History Commission
creatorOf Faulkner, William, 1897-1962. Typed letter signed : [n.p.], to Richard Wright, [1945?]. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Kirchwey, Freda. Papers, 1871-1972 (inclusive), 1937-1971 (bulk) [microform]. Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn Rogers, John Carr, d. 1979. Papers of John C. Rogers [manuscript] 1908-74. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas papers, 1837-1961 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Constance Webb Papers, 1918-2005, [Bulk Dates: 1939-2002]. Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
creatorOf Wright, Richard, 1908-1960. Richard Wright letter to E. Ording, 1940 Apr. 29. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
referencedIn Fredric Wertham Papers, 1818-1986, (bulk 1945-1975) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Wright, Richard, 1908-1960. Richard Wright collection, 1935-1967. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Tiger's Eye records, 1939-1955 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Larry Neal papers, 1961-1985 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
referencedIn Neal, Larry, 1937-1981. Larry Neal papers, 1961-1985. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Rosskam, Edwin, 1903-1985. Oral history interview with Edwin and Louise Rosskam, 1965 Aug. 3. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Wodening, Jane, 1936-. Jane Wodening and Stan Brakhage scrapbooks, 1958-1967. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn William A. Bradley Literary Agency Records TXRC06-A20., 1909-1982 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Ovington, Mary White, 1865-1951. Mary White Ovington papers, 1854-1948. Wayne State University, Archives of Labor & Urban Affairs
referencedIn United States. Work Projects Administration. United States Work Projects Administration records, 1524-1975 (bulk 1935-1942). Library of Congress
referencedIn Lillian B. Gilkes Papers, 1900-1976 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
creatorOf Wright, Richard, 1908-1960. TLS, 1940 April 30 : Cuernavaca, Mexico, to Clifford Odets. Copley Press, J S Copley Library
referencedIn Ralph Ellison Papers, 1890-2005, (bulk 1930-1994) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Algren, Nelson, 1909-1981. person
associatedWith Baldwin, James, 1924-1987. person
associatedWith Barnes, Margaret Ellen. person
associatedWith Beach, Sylvia. person
associatedWith Beach, Sylvia. person
associatedWith Bontemps, Arna Wendell, 1902-1973. person
associatedWith Boyle, Kay, 1902-1992. person
associatedWith Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917- person
associatedWith Cayton, Horace R. (Horace Roscoe), 1903-1970. person
associatedWith Cheuse, Alan. person
memberOf Communist party of America corporateBody
associatedWith Cullen, Countee, 1903-1946. person
associatedWith De Pereda, Prudencio, 1912- . person
associatedWith Diop, Alioune Oumy. person
associatedWith Diop, Alioune Oumy. person
associatedWith Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963. person
associatedWith Elder, Lonne. person
correspondedWith Ellison, Ralph. person
correspondedWith Ellison, Ralph. person
associatedWith Fabre, Michel. person
associatedWith Faulkner, William, 1897-1962. person
associatedWith Federal Writers' Project. corporateBody
correspondedWith Fischer, Ruth, 1895- person
associatedWith FREDA KIRCHWEY, 1893-1976 person
associatedWith Frings, Ketti. person
correspondedWith Gannett, Lewis, 1891-1966 person
associatedWith Gilkes, Lillian B. (Lillian Barnard), 1902-1977 person
associatedWith Green, Paul, 1894-1981. person
associatedWith Gremley, William H., 1913-1992. person
associatedWith Guérin, Daniel, 1904- person
associatedWith Guggenheimer, Ida, 1866-1959. person
associatedWith Himes, Chester B., 1909-1984. person
associatedWith Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967. person
associatedWith James, C. L. R. (Cyril Lionel Robert), 1901-1989. person
associatedWith Jerome, V. J. (Victor Jeremy), 1896-1965. person
associatedWith John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. corporateBody
associatedWith Johnson, James Weldon, 1871-1938. person
associatedWith Karpman, Benjamin, 1886- person
associatedWith Kennedy, Stetson, person
associatedWith Kirchwey, Freda. person
associatedWith McCall, Dan. person
associatedWith McKay, Claude, 1890-1948. person
associatedWith Mott, Frank Luther, 1886-1964, person
associatedWith Myrdal, Gunnar, 1898-1987. person
associatedWith Neal, Larry, 1937-1981. person
associatedWith Norman, Dorothy, 1905-1997. person
associatedWith Odets, Clifford, 1906-1963. person
associatedWith Ording, E., person
associatedWith Overholser, Grace McSpadden, d. 1971. person
correspondedWith Ovington, Mary White, 1865-1951. person
associatedWith Padmore, George, 1903-1959. person
associatedWith Panassié, Hugues. person
associatedWith Panassié, Hugues. person
associatedWith Pivano, Fernanda. person
associatedWith Pivano, Fernanda. person
associatedWith Quinn, Kerker. person
associatedWith Replansky, Naomi. person
associatedWith Reynolds, Anita Thompson Dickinson, 1901-1980. person
associatedWith Rogers, John Carr, d. 1979. person
associatedWith Rosskam, Edwin, 1903-1985 person
associatedWith Sablonière, Margrit de. person
associatedWith Sablonière, Margrit de. person
associatedWith Sartre, Jean-Paul, 1905-1980. person
associatedWith Senghor, Léopold Sédar, 1906- person
associatedWith Shrader (Firm : Little Rock, Ark.), corporateBody
associatedWith Soupault, Ré. person
associatedWith Soupault, Ré. person
associatedWith Stein, Gertrude, 1874-1946. person
associatedWith Toomer, Jean, 1894-1967. person
associatedWith United States. Work Projects Administration. corporateBody
associatedWith Van Vechten, Carl, 1880-1964. person
associatedWith Walker, Margaret, 1915-1998. person
associatedWith Webb, Constance person
associatedWith Webb, Constance. person
associatedWith Welles, Orson, 1915-1985. person
correspondedWith Wertham, Fredric, 1895-1981. person
associatedWith Wheatley, Phillis, 1753-1784. person
associatedWith William A. Bradley Literary Agency, 1923-1982 corporateBody
associatedWith Wodening, Jane, 1936- person
associatedWith Wolfe, Bernard, 1915- person
associatedWith Wright, Ellen. person
associatedWith Wright family family
associatedWith Wright family. family
associatedWith Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Illinois corporateBody
associatedWith Writers' Program (U.S.) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Oberlin (Ohio)
Chicago (Ill.)
Paris (France)
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Argentine Republic 00 AR
Republic of France 00 FR
Kingdom of Spain 00 ES
Roxie MS US
Ghana
Ghana
Europe
Subject
Authors, American--20th century
Advertising, Newspaper
African American authors
Authors, American--20th century--Archives
African American authors--20thcentury
African American authors--Correspondence
Harlem Renaissance
Authors, American
Publishers and Publishing
African American authors--20th century--Archives
American literature--African American authors
World War, 1939-1945
Occupation
Authors, Black
Authors
Actors
Novelists
Function

Person

Birth 1908-09-04

Death 1960-11-28

Americans

English

Information

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