As a writer, Richard Wright was a man defined by the era in which he wrote. His focus on the difficulties and challenges faced by black communities living in the US came at a time when the country was still extensively segregated by colour. Wright was part of a movement that challenged the status quo and ultimately led to the development of better race relations in the US.
Wright’s books can be seen as more socially and politically important in their own right than just valuable as literary pieces. His early work is seen as more incisive by critics with its portrayal of “real people”. With a catalogue of fiction and non-fiction works, Wright has left us with significant choice when looking at collecting.
The book that brought him to national attention, Uncle Tom’s Children, in 1938 can realise up to $1,500 for an excellent copy. His bestseller, Black Boy, from 1945 is important to Wright aficionados due to its semi-autobiographical nature. Some copies of this work can fetch $4,500 but more realistically can be found for $750 to $1,000 if the collector is happy to spend time investigating the auctions and sale rooms to find high quality versions.
His Native Son from 1940 can also fetch good prices with copies out there exceeding $5,000 but again as with Black Boy more pragmatic collectors will be able to spend under a thousand dollars. His 1941 non-fiction study, 12 Million Black Voices, is again variable with a price range starting from just a few hundred dollars.
For collectors looking to own a small part of African American history, Wright’s books may be a very attractive proposition and at a price that can be considered extremely reasonable.
Wright, Richard. Uncle Tom's Children. Harper and Brothers Publishers, New York (1938). Four Novellas; volume consists of the four short works: 'Big Boy Leaves Home', 'Down by the Riverside', 'Long Black Song' and 'Fire and Cloud'
Wright, Richard. Uncle Tom's Children. Victor Gollancz, London (1939). Four Novellas; 4 novellas in the volume with a foreword by Paul Robeson
Wright, Richard. 12 Million Black Voices. Viking Press, New York (1941). A Folk History of the Negro in United States; Photo-direction by Edwin Rosskam.
Wright, Richard. Black Boy. Harper and Brothers, New York (1945). A Record of Childhood and Youth
Drake, St. Clair. Black Metropolis. Harcourt, Brace and Co., New York (1945). A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City; and Horace R. Cayton [introduction By Richard Wright]
Wright, Richard. 12 million black voices. Viking Press, New York (1946). a folk history of the Negro in the United States; Photo-direction by Edwin Rosskam.
Wright, Richard. Fishbelly. Julliard, France (1960). The Long Dream)
Wright, Richard. Eight Men. World Publishing, Cleveland (1961). 8 short stories ranging from racial struggles in the Deep South to psychological dramas in Africa and Sandinavia and from casual narrative sketches to tense dramas