"Native Son" is a groundbreaking novel written by Richard Wright and published in 1940. The book is one of the first American books to explore the topics of race relations and the oppression and segregation that black people face … [Read more...] about Native Son
Richard Nathaniel Wright was an American author whose outspoken protest against racial prejudice made him a spokesperson for a generation of black people in America.
Born in Natchez, Mississippi in 1908, Wright spent his early life in poverty and moved frequently with his family around the tri-state area of Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. Wright left school after the ninth grade and published his first story when he was only 16. He worked menial jobs to support himself and moved to the South Side of Chicago in 1927.
He joined the Federal Writer's Project and the Federal Negro Theater Project during the Great Depression. In 1932, he joined the Communist party and wrote poems, short stories and essays. He described his subsequent disillusionment with the party in his contribution to 'The God That Failed' (1950), a book of essays written by six former Communists. He lived in New York in the late 1930's and worked as an editor. Wright's first book, 'Uncle Tom's Children' (1938) is a collection of stories that eloquently dramatize racial prejudice in America. His major work, 'Native Son' (1940), explores the violent psychological pressures that drive a young Chicago black man named Bigger Thomas to murder.
In 1939, Wright married Dhimah Rose Meidman, a dance teacher, but the marriage unfortunately ended a year later and in 1941 he married Ellen Poplar, a Communist organizer. The couple had two daughters, Julia and Rachael.
In the autobiographical, 'Black Boy' (1945), Wright reveals in bitter personal terms the devastating impact of prejudice on a black person in the U.S during his formative years.
Wright became unhappy with life in the U. S and moved to France in 1947 where he became a French citizen and traveled throughout Europe, Asia and Africa.
He used these travels as the basis for many non-fiction books.
Wright died of a heart attack in Paris, France in 1960 at the age of 52. He was buried in Le Pere Lachaise Cemetery.