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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.
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).
WORKSBlack Boy. New York, 1945.
White Man, Listen! Garden City, N.Y., 1957.
In Russian translation:
Detidiadi Toma. Moscow, 1939.
Rasskazy. Moscow, 1962.
REFERENCESMendel’son, M. Sovremennyi amerikanskii roman. Moscow, 1964.
Webb. C. R. Wright: A Biography. New York .
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.