Sarah E. Wright Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Sarah Elizabeth Wright was born in the town of Wetipquin on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the birthplace of abolitionists Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. The pride and heroics of these cultural icons live on in Wright’s books. In “An Appreciation,” the afterword to the 1986 edition of Wright’s acclaimed novel This Child’s Gonna Live, author John Oliver Killens, who was Wright’s mentor, identifies a similarity of faith and humanistic struggle between Wright’s commitment to encouraging humankind and that of the historical models of African American struggle.

Wright’s father, Willis Charles, was an oysterman, barber, farmer, and musician. Her mother, the former Mary Amelia Moore, was a homemaker, barber, farmworker, and factory worker. Wright married Joseph G. Kaye, a composer, and had two children, Michael and Shelley. She attended Howard University (1945-1949) and the former Cheyney State Teachers College (1950-1952). In addition to being a writer, she worked as a teacher, a bookkeeper, and an office manager.

Wright had a rich history of artistic organization. She was a member of the Authors Guild, the Authors League of America, International PEN, and the International Women’s Writing Guild. She served as vice president of the Harlem Writers Guild and as president of Pen & Brush, Inc. (1992-1993), the oldest professional organization of women in the United States. Wright put these experiences together to...

(The entire section is 530 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Campbell, Jennifer. “‘It’s a Time in the Land’: Gendering Black Power and Sarah E. Wright’s Place in the Tradition of Black Women’s Writing.” African American Review 31, no. 2 (1997): 211-222. This article is a critical treatment of gender and black nationalism in Wright’s This Child’s Gonna Live.

Harris, Trudier. “Three Black Women Writers and Humanism: A Folk Perspective.” In Black Literature and Humanism, edited by R. Baxter. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1981. This study of how three black women writers address small-town community values, achievements, and survival strategies compares Wright’s This Child’s Gonna Live, Alice Walker’s The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970), and Paule Marshall’s The Chosen Place, the Timeless People (1969).

Houston, Helen. R. “Sarah Elizabeth Wright.” In Oxford Companion to African American Literature, edited by William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster, and Trudier Harris. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. This essay offers contemporary biographical data on Wright, highlighting her works and her contemporaries.

White, Linda. “Sarah Elizabeth Wright.” In Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. Wright has not penned an autobiography, so this essay is one of the lengthier biographical treatments available on the author with an exhaustive bibliography.