Richard Wright: The Man Who Lived Underground (2165 words)


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Richard Wright finished the manuscript of The Man Who Lived Underground in December 1941. The first copies of the novel reached bookstores in April 2021. The story behind the eighty-year publication delay is revealing. 

In 1940, with Native Son still on the bestseller lists, Wright’s editors at Harper & Brothers saw a chance to leverage his status as America’s leading Black writer. They had a hunch that an uplifting tale with Wright’s name on it would be a hit and pressured the celebrity author for a new book under the upbeat title Black Hope. Wright agreed to the idea and began a novel about female domestic workers.

But the Black Hope project languished. In J…

Citation: Chura, Patrick. "The Man Who Lived Underground". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 June 2021 [, accessed 28 September 2021.]

40533 The Man Who Lived Underground 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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