Following on from the depression-era doldrums of the 1930s, we move on to the 1940s, a decade shaped by Total War... and an abundance of unforgettable literature.
Richard Wright was born near Natchez, Mississippi, in 1908, to a sharecropping family of ex-slaves. His mother was a schoolteacher but, abandoned by her husband, she had to resort to menial jobs to feed her two sons before suffering a series of strokes. During a childhood scarred by hunger, Wright lived in Memphis, Tennessee, then in an orphanage, and with various relatives. He left home at fifteen, returned to Memphis for two years to work, and in 1934 went to Chicago where he was employed at the Post Office before beginning work at the Federal Writers' Project in 1935. He published Uncle Tom's Children in 1938 and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship the following year. His other books include Native Son (1940), his autobiography, Black Boy (1945), and The Outsider (1953). After the war, Richard Wright chose expatriation and went to live in Paris with his family, remaining there until his death in 1960.
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