Making the Wright Connection

An Online Community for the Study of Richard Wright

Bibliography Notes

Posted on August 8, 2008 | No Comments

The most valuable guides to Wright’s published and unpublished works are Richard Wright: A Primary Bibliography (1982), compiled by Michel Fabre and Charles T. Davis and Timothy G. Young’s finding aid for RICHARD WRIGHT PAPERS, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Keneth Kinnamon’s A Richard Wright Bibliography: Fifty Years of Criticism and Commentary, 1933-1982 (1988) and Richard Wright: An Annotated Bibliography of Criticism and Commentary, 1983-2003 (2006) are the most comprehensive guides to secondary sources, including books, articles, reviews, doctoral dissertations, master’s theses, handbooks, study guides, interviews, chapters in books and encyclopedia articles. For listings of materials after 2003, one should consult the annual MLA International Bibliography and on-line databases.


Constance Webb’s Richard Wright: A Biography (1968), the first full-length study of Wright’s life is still valuable; its limitations, however, are exposed by Michel Fabre’s masterful The Unfinished Quest of Richard Wright (1973; 2nd ed. 1993). Addison Gayle’s Richard Wright: Ordeal of a Native Son (1980), Margaret Walker’s Richard Wright: Daemonic Genius (1988), and Hazel Rowley’s Richard Wright: The Life and Times (Henry Holt, 2001; University of Chicago Press, 2008) provide stimulating challenges to some of the conclusion in Fabre’s biography. More recent biographies include Debbie Levy’s Richard Wright: A Biography (2008) –especially good for young readers and Jennifer Jensen Wallach’s Richard Wright: From Black Boy to World Citizen (2010) –especially good as a reference for public school classrooms.

Critical Studies

Two books by Michel Fabre, The World of Richard Wright (1985) and Richard Wright: Books and Writers (1990) deserve special attention, as do Eugene E. Miller’s Voice of a Native Son: The Poetics of Richard Wright (1990), Keneth Kinnamon’s The Emergence of Richard Wright: A Study of Literature and Society (1973), and Joyce Ann Joyce’s Richard Wright’s Art of Tragedy (1986). Russell Brignano’s Richard Wright: An Introduction to the Man and His Works (1970) and Edward Margolies’s The Art of Richard Wright (1969) tell us much about the critical biases of the 1960s. Several collections of essays provide crucial background and interpretive information on Wright’s fiction and non-fiction. The more notable ones are Richard Wright: Critical Perspectives Past and Present (1993), edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.and K. A. Appiah; Critical Essays on Richard Wright (1982), edited by Yoshinobu Hakutani: Richard Wright: A Collection of Critical Essays (1984),edited by Richard Macksey and Frank E. Moorer; Richard Wright: A Collection of Critical Essays (1995), edited by Arnold Rampersad; The Critical Response to Richard Wright (1995), edited by Robert J. Butler, and Approaches to Teaching Wright’s Native Son (1997), edited by James A. Miller. John M. Reilly’s Richard Wright: The Critical Reception (1978) is an invaluable source for reviews of Wright’s published works up to 1977. The interviews collected in Conversations with Richard Wright (1993), edited by Keneth Kinnamon and Michel Fabre, help us to understand more about Wright as the engaged artist. Manthia Diawara’s “Situation II: Richard Wright and Modern Africa” (In Search of Africa, 1998) and Kwame Anthony Appiah’s “A Long Way from Home: Wright in the Gold Coast” (Richard Wright, 1987, edited by Harold Bloom) provide contrasting African views of Wright. These two essays should be read in conjunction with Richard Wright’s Travel Writings: New Reflections (2001), edited by Virginia Whatley Smith. One should not overlook the chapter on Wright’s intellectual legacy in Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (1993) and the discussions of Wright’s friendship with Ralph Ellison in Lawrence Jackson’s Ralph Ellison: Emergence of Genius (2002) and in Arnold Rampersad’s Ralph Ellison: A Biography (2007). One of the most challenging studies of Wright’s creative intelligence is Abdul R. JanMohamed’s The Death-Bound-Subject: Richard Wright’s Archaeology of Death (2005). Equally thought-provoking is Chapter Five, “Richard Wright’s Scottsboro of the Imagination,” in James A. Miller’s Remembering Scottsboro: The Legacy of an Infamous Trial (2009).


Ward, Jerry W. and Robert J. Butler, eds. The Richard Wright Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2008.

Download Selected Bibliography


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.