Chesnutt, Charles W. (Charles Waddell), 1858-1932Variant names
Charles Waddell Chesnutt was America's first important African-American author, and earned a reputation for both his socially conscious work and his literary innovation. Born in Cleveland to free black parents, he was raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and travelled throughout the south, as well as New York and Washington, D.C., before settling in Cleveland with his wife. He had worked as a teacher, and in Cleveland started a successful stenography business, learned law, and passed the bar exam. Chesnutt published numerous short stories and articles, and eventually wrote several novels, including The Conjure Woman (1899). He sought to entertain and educate, and his themes of racial prejudice and miscegnation led to critical appreciation of his work.
From the description of Charles Waddell Chesnutt letters, 1899-1900. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 106473406
African American author, first African American fiction writer to receive serious attention.
From the description of Charles W. Chesnutt papers, 1864-1938. (Fisk University). WorldCat record id: 70971631
Cleveland, Ohio court reporter, novelist and short story writer. He was the first Black novelist and short story writer to win recognition on a nationwide scale.
From the description of Charles Waddell Chesnutt papers, 1889-1932. (Rhinelander District Library). WorldCat record id: 17725484
From the description of Charles Waddell Chesnutt papers, 1889-1932 [microform]. (Rhinelander District Library). WorldCat record id: 47358724
African American novelist and lawyer; second principal of State Colored Normal School, Fayetteville, N.C.
From the description of Charles Waddell Chesnutt collection, 1821-1976. (Fayetteville State University). WorldCat record id: 70965180
From the description of Papers of Charles Waddell Chesnutt, 1889-1932. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71068132
click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for Charles Waddell Chesnutt
Charles Waddell Chesnutt (1858-1932) was the first African American novelist and short story writer to gain national distinction in the United States before 1900.
Chesnutt was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on June 20, 1858, the son of Andrew Jackson and Maria Sampson Chesnutt, who had come from North Carolina to Cleveland as "free persons of color" in a covered wagon two years earlier. After he was discharged from service in the American Civil War, Andrew Jackson Chesnutt remained in his native North Carolina and his Cleveland family moved there. Charles Chesnutt was educated in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and at the age of 16 began teaching in small country schools. Constantly engaged in self study, he mastered in Latin, Greek, and shorthand.
In 1882, at the age of 25, Chesnutt went to New York City and worked as a newspaper reporter. Six months later, he returned to Cleveland and worked as a clerk while studying law. Although he never actually practiced law, he remained in the field by becoming a court reporter.
Chesnutt found time to write, and he became a master in the difficult art of short story writing. Starting in 1887, he had seven short stories published in the Atlantic Monthly, one of the leading magazines of the day. In 1899 the Houghton Mifflin Company published a collection of his stories under the title The Conjure Woman . The Wife of his Youth and Other Stories of the Color Line appeared in 1899 also and received most complimentary reviews. In quick succession, other novels followed: The House Behind the Cedars (1900), The Marrow Tradition (1901), The Colonel's Dream (1905), and several others. He was a frequent contributor to magazines, writing serious articles on various phases of race relations in America.
The work of Chesnutt brought the African American experience into serious recognition on the basis of merit. His experiences in the South during the difficult period of Reconstruction furnished the inspiration and theme for his writings. The bitter heritage of slavery, the clash of races, the striving of the disadvantaged created dramatic situations, and he depicted them with the pen of a master. With the passing of the generation that followed the American Civil War, interest in the type of literature created by Chesnutt had declined by 1910. Chesnutt died on November 15, 1932.
From the guide to the Charles Waddell Chesnutt Papers, 1889-1932, (Western Reserve Historical Society)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Authors, American. Correspondence, reminiscences, etc|
|African American authors|
|African American authors--Correspondence|
|African American authors--Ohio--Cleveland|
|Chesnutt, Charles Waddell, 1858-1932|
|African American authors--Correspondence, reminiscences, etc|
|American literature--African American authors|
|African American universities and colleges|
|African American authors|
|African American lawyers|
|African American school principals--North Carolina--Fayetteville|
|African American novelists|