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Richard Wright - Books and Writers

Richard Wright

Books and Writers

By Michel Fabre
Paperback : 9781604731965, 299 pages, October 2008

A bibliography of Wright’s library, which serves as a key to understanding the development, philosophies, and aesthetics of one of the greatest African American writers


This bibliography of Richard Wright's library and reading serves as a key to understanding the development, philosophies, and aesthetics of this great writer and provides accurate information for the study of intertextuality in his works.

Richard Wright, born in Mississippi in 1908, was largely self-taught. His only formal schooling was high school. As he recounts in Black Boy, he used a white friend's library card at the Memphis Public Library, where blacks were not allowed. That books were almost "living companions" for Wright is easily understandable. Through books and, later, through relationships with writers, he broadened his perspectives, his understanding of society, and the very craft of writing. In the history of Richard Wright, perhaps more than with other writers, a knowledge of what he actually read, and of what authors he preferred, is essential in explaining his intellectual development.

Michel Fabre, Wright's biographer and foremost Wright scholar, details the volumes in Wright's library and the facts of Wright's reading habits. This listing of books that formed and influenced him includes second-hand books he bought while living in extreme poverty in Chicago, some borrowed books never returned, books purchased in New York and Paris, books Wright deemed required reading for a growing novelist, gift books, and others in a comprehensive list on such subjects as contemporary American literature, classic European works, criminology, psychiatry, and social sciences. In compiling this listing Fabre goes beyond the actual contents of Wright's library, for he includes also titles drawn from references in Wright's works and from accounts of people who knew him and his reading habits. Included also is an appendix that collects for the first time reviews written by Wright, his prefaces, forewords, and blurbs. They show his appreciation of diverse genres and styles, although his ideological commitment remained the same. In them one sees Wright as an author ready to help younger writers, black and white, American and French.