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Native Essay

907 words - 4 pages

Wright, Richard (4 Sept. 1908-28 Nov. 1960), author, was born Richard Nathaniel Wright on Rucker's Plantation, between Roxie and Natchez, Mississippi, the son of Nathaniel Wright, an illiterate sharecropper, and Ella Wilson, a schoolteacher. When Wright was five, his father left the family and his mother was forced to take domestic jobs away from the house. Wright and his brother spent a period at an orphanage. Around 1920 Ella Wright became a paralytic, and the family moved from Natchez to Jackson, then to Elaine, Arkansas, and back to Jackson to live with Wright's maternal grandparents, who were restrictive Seventh-day Adventists. Wright moved from school to school, graduating from the ...view middle of the document...

In Chicago Wright worked at the post office, at Michael Reese Hospital taking care of lab animals, and as an insurance agent, among other jobs. There, in 1932, he became involved in the John Reed Club, an intellectual arm of the Communist party, which he joined the next March. By 1935 he found work with the Federal Negro Theater in Chicago under the Federal Writers' Project. He wrote some short stories and a novel during this time, but they were not published until after his death. In 1937 Wright moved to New York City, where he helped start New Challenge magazine and was the Harlem editor of the Daily Worker as well as coeditor of Left Front. Wright's literary career was launched when his short story collection, Uncle Tom's Children (1938), won first prize for the Story magazine contest open to Federal Writer's Project authors for best book-length manuscript. Harper's published this collection with "Fire and Cloud," "Long Black Song," "Down by the Riverside," and "Big Boy Leaves Home"; in 1940 the story "Bright and Morning Star" was added, and the book was reissued. Native Son followed in 1940, the first bestselling novel by a black American writer and the first Book-of-the-Month Club selection by an African-American writer. It sold 215,000 copies in its first three weeks of publication. Native Son made Wright the most respected and wealthiest black writer in America; he was awarded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's prestigious Spingarn Medal in 1941. After Uncle Tom's Children, Wright declared in "How Bigger Was Born" that he needed to write a book that...

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