Wright, Richard

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Wright, Richard

Wright, Richard, 1908–60, American author. An African American born on a Mississippi plantation, Wright struggled through a difficult childhood and worked to educate himself. He moved to Chicago in 1927 and in the 1930s joined the city's Federal Writers' Project and wrote Uncle Tom's Children (1938), a collection of four novellas dealing with Southern racial problems. His novel Native Son (1940), which many consider Wright's most important work, concerns the life of Bigger Thomas, a victimized African American struggling against the complicated political and social conditions of Chicago in the 1930s. In 1932, Wright joined the Communist party but later left it in disillusionment. After World War II, Wright moved to Paris. His Black Boy (1945), also regarded as one of his finest works, is an account of his childhood and youth. Other works include Twelve Million Black Voices (1941), a folk history of African Americans; American Hunger (1977), a two-part autobiography; The Outsider (1953) and The Long Dream (1958), two novels; Black Power (1954), an account of his trip to the Gold Coast (Ghana); and Eight Men (1961), a collection of stories published posthumously. Originally censored by his publishers due to their racial, political, or sexual candor, Wright's works were reissued unexpurgated in 1991.


See biographies by C. Webb (1968), M. Fabre (tr. 1973), A. Gayle (1980), M. Walker (1988), and H. Rowley (2001); studies by D. McCall (1969), K. Kinnamon (1973), and D. Ray and R. M. Farnsworth, ed. (1973).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Wright, Richard


Born Sept. 4, 1908, in Natchez, Miss.; died Nov. 29, 1960, in Paris. American writer.

The son of a poor Negro, Wright received his elementary education in orphanages. In the 1930’s he was a member of the Communist Party of the United States. Beginning in 1946, he lived in Paris. Wright won international acclaim for his novel Native Son (1940; Russian translation, 1941), which depicts the fate of a young Negro, doomed to a life of spiritual degradation and crime and to destruction. Wright’s works expose racism and are permeated with hate for the bourgeois system, which cripples the human personality. These traits are particularly evident in the novella The Outsider (1953) and in the novels The Long Dream (1958) and Lawd Today (1963).


Black Boy. New York, 1945.
White Man, Listen! Garden City, N.Y., 1957.
In Russian translation:
Detidiadi Toma. Moscow, 1939.
Rasskazy. Moscow, 1962.


Mendel’son, M. Sovremennyi amerikanskii roman. Moscow, 1964.
Webb. C. R. Wright: A Biography. New York [1968].
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Wright, Richard (Nathaniel)

(1908–60) writer, poet; born near Natchez, Miss. The grandson of slaves and son of a sharecropper, he went to school in Jackson, Miss., through only the ninth grade, but got a story published at age 16 while working at various jobs in the South. In 1927 he went to Chicago and worked briefly in the post office, but, forced on relief by the Depression, he joined the Communist Party (1932). With two more minor works published, he found employment with the Federal Writers Project; his Uncle Tom's Children (1938), a collection of four stories, was highly acclaimed. In 1937 he moved to New York City where he was an editor on the Communist newspaper, Daily Worker, but the publication of Native Son (1940) brought him overnight fame and freedom to write; a stage version (by Wright and Paul Green) followed in 1941 (and Wright himself later played the title role in a movie version made in Argentina). Black Boy (1945) advanced his reputation, but after living mainly in Mexico (1940–46), he had become so disillusioned with both the Communists and white America that he went off to Paris where he lived the rest of his life as an expatriate. He continued to write novels—such as The Outsider (1953) and The Long Dream (1958)—and nonfiction—such as Black Power (1954) and White Man, Listen! (1957)—and was regarded by African-American writers such as James Baldwin as an inspiration. His naturalistic fiction no longer has the standing it once enjoyed, but his life and works remain exemplary.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
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Together with the other founders, Adam Balon and Jon Wright, Richard grew Innocent into an international operation.
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Tomorrow's second team list includes Jamie Muncer, Peter Wright, Richard Horton and Simon O'Farrell, who are all ready to build up their match fitness after lay-offs.
Wright, Richard, Black Boy, [1945] Vintage, London, 1946.
Wright, Richard. "Between Laughter and Tears." Rev.
Wright, Richard. "A Blueprint for Negro Writing." 1937.
But Mumbles fought back with tries from Dan Wright, Richard Harries and Tristan Arnold.
However, if quality midfielders Jermaine Wright, Richard Chaplow and Andrew Surman can continue to get the service into international striker Grzegorz Rasiak and Peter Madsen then the results will follow.
Matt Wright, Richard Pepperell - making a sound contribution on his seasonal bow - and Brown followed Johnson over the line in the first half, Mark Hyslop adding all four conversions and a penalty, and ultra-slick handling saw Brown go over within seconds of the restart before Johnson's three in a row and Brown's third.
Owners: Richard and Marsha Wright, Richard Wright Jr.