“I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an
echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell,
to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.”
– from “American Hunger”
Richard Nathaniel Wright was born on the 4th of September, 1908 in Roxie, Mississippi on a plantation as the grandson of enslaved Africans. His family moved around a lot and at high school Wright was first confronted with American racism. In 1927 he moved to Chicago, where he worked at the post office and was influenced by works of Theodore Dreiser (see p. 3) and other authors. In this time he got contacts to the Communist Party and wrote his first book “Lawd Today”, which was published posthumously in 1963. He moved to New York in 1938. There he published his first novel “Uncle Tom’s Children”. This was a collection of short stories about the racism in southern states. Two years later “Native Son” was published – the first bestseller written by a black author. In 1942 he left the Communist Party and another two years later he wrote the essay “I Tried to Be a Communist” explaining why he did that. Other important works are “Black Boy” and “Black Power”. In the 40s Wright traveled a lot around the world and moved to Paris, where he died on the 28th of November, 1960 in Paris of a heart attack.