Richard Wright by Hazel Rowley
The Life and Times

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The first full-scale biography of the author of Black Boy and Native Son -- written with the dramatic drive of a novel.

"Writing," Richard Wright once said, "is my way of being a free man." In this authoritative and engaging biography, Hazel Rowley chronicles Wright's extraordinary journey from a sharecropper's shack in Mississippi to international renown as a writer, fiercely independent thinker, and outspoken critic of racism.

The child of the fundamentalist South with an eighth-grade education, a self-taught intellectual in the working-class Communist Party of the 1930s, a black man married to a white woman, and an expatriate in France after World War II, Wright was always an outsider. Skillfully interweaving quotations from Wright's writings, Rowley portrays a man who transced the times in which he lived and sought to reconcile opposing cultures in his work. She draws on recently discovered material to shed new light on Wright's relationships with Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, and others, and on his self-imposed exile in France (widely blamed for his so-called decline as a writer). In this lively, finely crafted narrative, Wright -- passionate, complex, courageous, and flawed -- comes vibrantly to life.

About Hazel Rowley

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Hazel Rowley is the author of Christina Stead: A Biography, a New York Times notable book. She has taught at Iowa University and at Deakins University in Melbourne, and is a Bunting Fellow at Radcliffe College. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Published August 14, 2001 by Henry Holt and Co.. 608 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Best known for his novel Native Son (1940) and his autobiography Black Boy (1945), Wright was a Mississippi sharecropper’s son, born near Natchez in 1908.

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The New York Times

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Hazel Rowley's biography of Richard Wright documents his early success and growing disaffection

Aug 26 2001 | Read Full Review of Richard Wright: The Life and ...

Publishers Weekly

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Born into crushing poverty in rural Mississippi, Richard Wright (1908–1960) became one of the most celebrated African-American writers of his time, best known for the controversial Native Son and his autobiographical Black Boy.

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Scouring the 136 boxes of Wright's memorabilia at Yale University and hunting down letters written by the author to people around the world, Rowley has constructed a more complex, detailed view of Wright than previously seen.

Sep 29 2014 | Read Full Review of Richard Wright: The Life and ...

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