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Richard Wright Biographer to Speak at Keene State

KEENE, N.H. 11/1/01 - Hazel Rowley will speak about her work as the biographer of writer Richard Wright at Keene State College on Friday, Nov. 9. Her talk, A Native Son in Exile, will be held at 1:30 p.m. in the Mountain View Room of the Student Center.

Richard Wright (1908-60) was a widely acclaimed African-American author. In 1940, his novel Native Son reached the top of the best-seller lists and became the first book by an African-American author to be a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. His autobiography, Black Boy, published in 1945, also became a best seller. However, after World War II, Wright, a former Communist party member, became the subject of FBI monitoring. In 1947, he decided to permanently move his family to France, where he felt he could write unimpeded by social and government interference. Living in Europe, Wright’s interests took on an expanding global view. He wrote a series of non-fiction essays and books reflecting on the position of race in a quickly changing post-war world.

Rowleys book Richard Wright: The Life and Times is regarded by many critics as the definitive biography of Wright. The New York Times Book Review wrote, The strength of Richard Wright is her painstaking research. Rowley has a daunting dedication to primary sources and her documentation is meticulous. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Rowleys biography is wonderfully readable and fair to the subjecta first-rate biography worthy of its towering, larger-than-life subject.

Rowley, an independent writer affiliated with the Du Bois Institute for Afro- American Studies at Harvard University, will speak about Wrights period of exile in France. The talk is free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by Keene States Campus Commission on the Status of Diversity and Multiculturalism, the English Department, and the Dean of Arts and Humanities.

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