Richard Wright's memoir of his childhood as a young black boy in the American south of the 1920s and 30s sold more than half a million copies on first publication and is considered a classic of the genre.
At four years of age, Richard Wright set fire to his home; at five his father deserted the family; by six Richard was – temporarily – an alcoholic. Moved from home to home, from brick tenement to orphanage, he had had, by the age of twelve, only one year’s formal education. It was in saloons, railroad yards and streets that he learned the facts about life under white subjection, about fear, hunger and hatred. Gradually he learned to play Jim Crow in order to survive in a world of white hostility, secretly satisfying his craving for books and knowledge until the time came when he could follow his dream of justice and opportunity in the north.Author Profile
Richard Wright was born near Natchez, Mississippi, in 1908. As a child he lived in Memphis, Tennessee, then in an orphanage, and with various relatives. He left home at fifteen and returned to Memphis for two years to work, and in 1934 went to Chicago, where in 1935, he began to work on the Federal Writers’ Project. He published Uncle Tom’s Children
in 1938 and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in the following year. After the Second World War, he went to live in Paris with his wife and daughters, remaining there until his death in 1960.Reviews
Before he was 40, Wright dominated literary America, publishing four books in seven years, each a triumph in its genre. His first novel, Native Son
(1940), sold at the rate of 2,000 copies a day, making Wright the first best-selling black writer in the country's history. Black Boy
(1945), his memoir of his Southern childhood, was a bigger success, selling more than a half-million copies,A compelling indictment of life in the Deep South between the wars,An angry chronicle of a bright black rebel growing up in the Jim Crow southlands: a landmark in the literature of Black America