Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Richard Wright  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Non-Fiction

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

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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 Administration 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.


Spingarn Medal, 1941

Name engraved on the frieze of the Illinois State Library alongside other great Illinois literary figures, 1990

Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, 2010

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.

A father's law /
ISBN: 9780061349164. OCLC Number: 156816390

. .

A novel left unfinished by Richard Wright at the time of his death in 1960, telling the story of Ruddy Turner, an African-American police chief in a Chicago suburb, who struggles to know what to do when he begins to suspect his college-age son Tommy is a murderer.

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 Power: A Record of Reactions in a Land of Pathos
ISBN: B0007DMQ6Q. OCLC Number:

. .

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: 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.

Haiku :
ISBN: 1559704454. OCLC Number: 39116670

. .

Dazzling collection of 810 Haiku written by the late African-American author of Native Son holds true to the traditional Zen discipline of depicting the relationship between man and nature, but does so from the perspective of an African-American man.

Injustice /
ISBN: 1784874086. OCLC Number: 1028803792

. .

How to go on in a world where everything is set against you? With hope? In fear? Or, in violent struggle? In this gripping and disturbing book, Richard Wright weaves his own childhood recollections with those of Bigger Thomas - a young black man trapped in a life of poverty in the slums of Chicago, and unwittingly involved in a wealthy woman's death - to paint a portrait of insurmountable oppression. Through the strange pride Bigger takes in his crime, Wright brings us to confront the systems of justice we blindly assume are always on our side.

Lawd today /
ISBN: 0930350995. OCLC Number: 13795224

Northeastern University Press,. .

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.

Pagan Spain
ISBN: 9780062010599. OCLC Number: 698473432

Harper Perennial Modern Classics,. .

Richard Wright reader /
ISBN: 0060147377. OCLC Number: 3168415

. .

Part II: Fiction -- Long Black song -- Fire and cloud. Lawd today [excerpt] -- Native son [excerpt] -- The man who lived underground -- The outsider [excerpt] -- Savage holiday [excerpt] -- Big Black good man -- The long dream [excerpt] -- Black Boy (excerpt) -- Joe Louis Uncovers Dynamite -- Blueprint for Negro Writing -- Letters: Richard Wright/Burton Rascoe -- Richard Wright/David L. Cohn -- Richard Wright/Antonio Frasconi -- Review: Wars I Have Seen / Gertrude Stein -- There's Always Another Cafe -- Black Power (excerpt) -- Pagan Spain (excerpt) -- 12 Million Black Voices -- Poetry: I Have Seen Black Hands -- Between the World and Me -- Red Clay Blues -- The FB Eye Blues -- Haikus -- Long Black Song -- Fire and Cloud -- Lawd Today (excerpt) -- Native Son (excerpt) -- The Man Who Lived Underground -- The Outsider (excerpt) -- Savage Holiday (excerpt) -- Big Black Good Man -- The Long Dream (excerpt) -- Chronology -- Bibliography.

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: B000SO39LA. OCLC Number:

. .

The long dream /
ISBN: 1555534236. OCLC Number: 43050098

. .

Set in a small town in Mississippi, this is a novel rich in characterization and plot that dramatizes Richard Wright's themes of oppression, exploitation, corruption, and flight. It is the story of Fishbelly (called Fish), the son of Tyree Tucker, a prominent black mortician and owner of a brothel whose wealth and power were attained by forging business arrangements with corrupt white police officers and politicians. The riveting narrative centers on the explosive and tragic events that shape and alter the relationship between Fish and his father.

The man who lived underground :
ISBN: 9781598536768. OCLC Number: 1153014568

. .

"Fred Daniels, a Black man, is picked up by the police after a brutal double murder and tortured until he confesses to a crime he did not commit. After signing a confession, he escapes from custody and flees into the city's sewer system."--

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.