Richard Wright Additional Biography

Biography

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Born in Mississippi of sharecropper parents, Richard Nathaniel Wright had a lonely and troubled childhood. His father deserted the family early, and after his mother suffered a stroke, Wright was forced at a young age to work to help support the family, which moved frequently from one relative to another. His portrayal of his mother is of a stern but loving parent, unable to contend with the stronger personality of his extremely religious grandmother. Wright’s grandmother believed that all fiction was “the devil’s lies”; her chief goal was to force Wright into a religious conversion, a goal in which she was singularly unsuccessful.

Wright’s direct connection to family members who had been slaves came through both sets of grandparents. Richard Wilson, his mother’s father, had been a slave in the cotton fields and had fled slavery to serve in the Civil War. His anger against whites carried throughout his life and was fueled by the government’s refusal to offer disability assistance. This bitter figure was a strong influence on Wright’s own angst. Less influential to Wright’s ideology was his paternal grandfather, Nathaniel Wright, who had been a slave, a Civil War soldier, and a sharecropper in the post-Civil War south.

Wright moved from school to school, attempting to make friends and make his talents known. Though both tasks were difficult, he became valedictorian of his class. Even this accomplishment was spoiled when the principal insisted...

(The entire section is 608 words.)

Biography

(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

ph_0111201300-Wright.jpg Richard Wright. Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Richard Wright rose from abject poverty to become one of America’s foremost writers. His topics consistently focus on the freedom and self-governance of African Americans in texts before 1950. He chronicled his Southern experiences from 1908 to 1927 in Black Boy, and his Northern experiences from 1927 to 1937 in American Hunger. Wright met with success once he moved to New York City in 1937. He won a literary prize in 1938 that earned him a contract with a major publisher, which published Uncle Tom’s Children. A Guggenheim Fellowship in 1939 enabled Wright to complete Native Son; with that work alone, he earned acclaim as the leading African American writer of his time. The novel is Wright’s moral indictment of America for perpetrating neo-slavery among African Americans. In Native Son, the ghetto produces Bigger Thomas, who dies as a result of his accidentally killing a white woman. The 1940’s brought personal crises to Wright. He faced America’s continuous racial discrimination toward him and toward interracial couples once he married Ellen Poplar in 1941. Ongoing rifts with the Communist Party also added to Wright’s tensions. In 1946, he renounced America for France, as did other expatriates who sought freedom abroad. The 1950’s marked the emergence of Wright’s global consciousness and his writings concerning Western imperialism. His immersion in French existentialism provided the means to assess the effects of Western imperialism on Asian, African, and Spanish cultures. The Outsider became the seminal existentialist novel in African American letters. Wright became an existentialist humanist, transformed from what he identified as an “American Negro” to a “Western man of color” and freedom activist. Wright was prolific as well as a writer of high quality; his writings continued to be published after his death in 1960.

Biography

(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

Author Profile

Wright was the first African American writer to reach a large white audience. His realistic and powerful portrayal of the African American experience in both the South and the northern cities of the United States brought the country’s attention to African American suffering and hardships in the first half of the twentieth century. His masterpiece, Native Son (1940), marks a high point in the development of African American fiction. Its influence can be felt in the work of a whole generation of African American writers. Some black writers became imitators of Wright and consequently formed the Wright School of postwar black fiction. They are often referred to as protest novelists.

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(The entire section is 981 words.)

Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Richard Nathaniel Wright’s literary reputation has been largely determined by the political and racial concerns of his fiction. From the time he published Native Son until his death, he was viewed primarily as the literary spokesman for black radicalism. It has only been since the 1970’s that critics have begun to examine his writing in a broader perspective. Born on September 4, 1908, to Ella and Nathan Wright on a farm near Natchez, Mississippi, Richard had a difficult childhood of economic deprivation, familial disruption, and frequent relocations. The family was living in Memphis when his father abandoned them in 1914. His mother’s poverty and increasing illness made it necessary to rely on relatives and to move...

(The entire section is 758 words.)

Biography

(Short Stories for Students)

Richard Wright was born September 4, 1908, on a farm near Natchez, Mississippi. His father was a sharecropper and his mother was a teacher....

(The entire section is 446 words.)

Biography

(Short Stories for Students)

Richard Wright was born September 4, 1908, on a plantation near Natchez, Mississippi. His father, Nathaniel, was a sharecropper who left the...

(The entire section is 329 words.)

Biography

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The image that emerges from Richard Wright's autobiographical short stories, Uncle Tom's Children, is that of a lonely and troubled...

(The entire section is 453 words.)

Biography

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Richard Nathaniel Wright was born on September 4, 1908, at Rucker's Plantation in Roxie, Mississippi. His parents were Ellen Wilson, a school...

(The entire section is 448 words.)

Biography

(Novels for Students)

Richard Nathaniel Wright came from a family of slaves still living at Rucker’s Plantation in Roxie, Mississippi. His father, Nathan Wright,...

(The entire section is 473 words.)

Biography

(Short Stories for Students)

Wright was born on September 4, 1908, near Natchez, Mississippi. His father, an illiterate farm laborer, left the family when Wright was six....

(The entire section is 281 words.)

Biography

(Short Stories for Students)

Richard Nathaniel Wright was born on Rucker’s Plantation on September 4, 1908, in Roxie, Mississippi. This was, writes Alfred Kazin in his...

(The entire section is 730 words.)