Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Richard Wright  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: September 4, 1908 in Rucker's Plantation, twenty miles east of Natchez, Mississippi

Died: November 28, 1960 in Paris, France - buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

-- Mississippi Writers Page: Richard Wright --
-- Modern American Poetry: Richard Wright --
-- Richard Wright on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Wright moved to Chicago in 1927. He worked at the U. S. Post office in Chicago during the 1920`s and the Works Progress Adminintration Federal Writer`s Project in Chicago 1935-1937. While he lived in Chicago only about 10 years, it was in Chicago where he began a significant literary career focused on examining race relations in the 20th century.

Biographical and Professional Information

Richard Wright was an African-American author of novels, short stories and non-fiction. He is considered to be the most important African American writer of his time as his work helped redefine discussions of race relations in America in the mid-20th century. Born near Natchez, Mississippi, Wright resided in Chicago, Paris and New York. His famous novel, ''Native Son'', is set in Chicago and considered to be one of the best novels about the African American experience.


Richard Wright received several different literary awards during his lifetime including the Spingarn Medal in 1941 and the Story Magazine Award . Name engraved on the frieze of the Illinois State Library alongside other great Illinois literary figures, 1990

Selected Titles At Your Library

12 million black voices /
ISBN: 1560254467. OCLC Number: 51523421

Thunder's Mouth Press,. .

12 Million Black Voices, first published in 1941, combines Wright's prose with startling photographs selected by Edwin Rosskam from the Security Farm Administration files compiled during the Great Depression. The photographs include works by such giants as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Arthur Rothstein. From crowded, rundown farm shacks to Harlem storefront churches, the photos depict the lives of black people in 1930s America -- their misery and weariness under rural poverty, their spiritual strength, and their lives in northern ghettos. Wright's accompanying text eloquently narrates the story of these 90 pictures and delivers a powerful commentary on the origins and history of black oppression in this country. Also included are new prefaces by Douglas Brinkley, Noel Ignatiev, and Michael Eric Dyson. - Publisher.

American hunger /
ISBN: 0060147687. OCLC Number: 2694950

Harper & Row,. .

A continuation of Richard Wright's autobiography, "Black Boy."

Black boy :
ISBN: 0060834005. OCLC Number: 61652696

HarperCollinsPublishers,. .

This book is Richard Wright's devastating autobiography of his childhood and youth in the Jim Crow South. His training by his elders was strict and harsh to prepare him for the cruel "white world". His elders' resentment of those trying to escape their common misery made his future seem hopeless. In this book, the author describes his mental and emotional struggle to educate himself, which gave him a glimpse of life's possibilities and which led him to his triumphant decision to leave the South behind while still a teenager to live in Chicago and fulfill himself by becoming a writer.

Black boy :
ISBN: 0061130249. OCLC Number: 39339337

. .

The author relates his life as an African American growing up in the South during the Jim Crow years.

Building academic literacy :
ISBN: 0787965553. OCLC Number: 51265996

Jossey-Bass,. .

Publisher's description: Building Academic Literacy: Lessons from Reading Apprenticeship Classrooms, Grades 6-12, features pieces by five middle and high school teachers working with the Reading Apprenticeship instructional framework introduced in Reading for Understanding, (Schoenbach, et al, Jossey-Bass, 1999). Filled with instructional tips, lesson plans, and curriculum resources, this book offers guidance on conducting Academic Literacy courses as well as readings from a companion student book-- Building Academic Literacy: An Anthology for Reading Apprenticeship. It can serve as an excellent resource for any content area teacher, grades 6-12, looking for classroom-based ideas to motivate adolescents in becoming more active, engaged and strategic readers.

Conversations with Richard Wright
ISBN: 0878056327. OCLC Number: 28149215

University Press of Mississippi,. .

Collection of interviews revealing Wright's racial experience and the themes and techniques of his own work.

Eight men
ISBN: 0515020346. OCLC Number: 3889669

Pyramid Books,. .

Eight men /
ISBN: 0938410393. OCLC Number: 15315640

Thunder's Mouth Press :. .

Eight men :
ISBN: 9780061450181. OCLC Number: 226304832

Harper Perennial Modern Classics,. .

Here, in these powerful stories, Richard Wright takes readers into this landscape once again. Each of the eight stories in Eight Men focuses on a black man at violent odds with a white world, reflecting Wright's views about racism in our society and his fascination with what he called the struggle of the individual in America. These poignant, gripping stories will captivate all those who loved Black Boy and Native Son.

Lawd today /
ISBN: 0930350995. OCLC Number: 13795224

Northeastern University Press,. .

Native son
ISBN: 9781446466889. OCLC Number: 990141098

. .

Native son,
ISBN: 006083756X. OCLC Number: 606483

Harper & Bros.,. .

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Richard Wright's novel is just as powerful today as when it was written -- in its reflection of poverty and hopelessness, and what it means to be black in America.

New Black voices :
ISBN: 0451622928. OCLC Number: 505352

New American Library,. .

A major new collection of fiction, poetry, and criticism by outstanding black writers.

Pagan Spain
ISBN: 9780062010599. OCLC Number: 698473432

Harper Perennial Modern Classics,. .

Pagan Spain /
ISBN: 0061450197. OCLC Number: 191258480

Harper Perennial Modern Classics,. .

Rite of passage
ISBN: 9781435244313. OCLC Number: 221157556

Paw Prints,. .

When fifteen-year-old Johnny Gibbs is told that he is really a foster child, he runs off into the streets of Harlem and meets up with a gang that wants him to participate in a mugging. Includes criticism of Wright's fiction.

Rite of passage /
ISBN: 0060234199. OCLC Number: 28510214

HarperCollins Publishers,. .

When fifteen-year-old Johnny Gibbs is told that he is really a foster child, he runs off into the streets of Harlem and meets up with a gang that wants him to participate in a mugging. Includes criticism of Wright's fiction.

Savage holiday :
ISBN: 0878057498. OCLC Number: 31132463

Banner Books,. .

Erskine Fowler, an insurance executive forced by corporate intrigue into the long holiday of retirement, becomes enmeshed in a weekend of bizarre and bloody circumstances that reveal his troubled psyche and desperation. Naked and accidentally locked out of his apartment, he inadvertently causes a boy to fall to his death. Driven by guilt and by a compulsion to conceal his involvement, Fowler befriends the boy's mother. Yet his self-destructive rages to redeem himself lead to mayhem. This is Richard Wright's only published work with no black characters. He was unsure about how his readers would react to this bravely experimental novel. Shying away from the racial problem he depicted in his other works, he writes here a riveting study in psychological fiction. It deserves to be regarded anew as work from a master.

The color curtain :
ISBN: 0878057471. OCLC Number: 31207503

Banner Books,. .

This indispensable work urging removal of the color barrier remains one of the key commentaries on the question of race in the modern era. First published in 1956, it arose from Richard Wright's participation in a global conference held in Bandung, Indonesia, in April 1955. With this report of what occurred at Bandung Wright takes a central spot on the international stage and serves as a harbinger of worldwide social and political change. He exhorts Western nations, largely responsible for the poverty and ignorance in their former colonies, to destroy racial impediments and to work with the leadership of the new nations in moving toward modernization and industrialization under a free democratic system rather than under Communist totalitarianism. With this book, Wright became a precursor to the era of multiculturalism and an advocate for global transformation.

The long dream /
ISBN: 0060808691. OCLC Number: 15133234

Perennial Library,. .

Officially an undertaker, Tyree has his hand in the brothels, the dancehalls, the tenements of the ten thousand Clontonville blacks. When the trap closes in, Tyree's double personality, one for the whites and another for his own people, splits wide open.

The outsider /
ISBN: 0060539259. OCLC Number: 52208813

Perennial,. .

[The author] presents a compelling story of a black man's attempt to escape his past and start anew in Harlem. Cross Damon is a man at odds with society and with himself, a man who hungers for peace but who brings terror and destruction wherever he goes.

Uncle Tom's children /
ISBN: 0060587148. OCLC Number: 54394389

HarperPerennial,. .

An autobiographical sketch and five short stories by the author, who was born on a Mississippi plantation, which focus on the plight of his people.

White man, listen! /
ISBN: 0313205337. OCLC Number: 4003858

Greenwood Press,. .

ISBN: 0940450666. OCLC Number: 23384900

Library of America :. .

The story of Wright's account of his struggle to escape a life of poverty, ignorance, and fear in his native South.