Charles Waddell Chesnutt
(1858 - 1932)
1928 winner of the NAACP's Spingarn Award for "Highest achievement by a black American"
Charles Waddell Chesnutt, an Afro-American man of letters, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on 20 June 1858, the son of free blacks who had emigrated from Fayetteville, N.C. When he was eight years old, Chesnutt's parents returned to Fayetteville, where Charles worked part-time in the family grocery store and attended a school founded by the Freedmen's Bureau. In 1872 financial necessity forced him to begin a teaching career in Charlotte, N.C. He returned to Fayetteville in 1877, married a year later, and by 1880 had become principal of the Fayetteville State Normal School for Negroes. Meanwhile he continued to pursue private studies of the English classics, foreign languages, music, and stenography. Despite his successes, he longed for broader opportunities and a chance to develop the literary skills that by 1880 led him toward an author's life. In 1883 he moved his family to Cleveland. There he passed the state bar examination and established his own court reporting firm. Financially prosperous and prominent in civic affairs, he resided in Cleveland for the remainder of his life.
Charles W. Chesnutt Postage Stamp shown above is the 31st in the Black Heritage Series released in January 2008.
bio excerpted from Photo: North Carolina Collection, UNC-CH Library
Publisher: Penguin USA
Pub. Date: January 1993
One of the most significant novels in American literature, The Marrow of Tradition is based on the Wilmington, North Carolina, Massacre of 1898. Called a "race riot" by the inflammatory Southern press and engineered by white Democrats who had seen their political slip into the hands of Republicans, many of whom were black, it was in fact a coup that restored power to the Democrats by subverting the principles of free democratic election. Some of Charles Chestnutt's relatives lived through the violence, and their accounts inspired this powerful and passionate novel.
by Charles W. Chesnutt, Donald Gibson (Editor)
Format: Paperback, 195pp
Pub. Date: March 1993
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Edition Description: REPRINT
The House Behind the Cedars tells of John and Lena Walden, mulatto siblings who pass for white in the postbellum American South. The drama that unfolds as they travel between black and white worlds constitutes a riveting portrait of the shifting and intractable nature of race in American life. This edition revitalizes a much-neglected masterpiece by one of our most important African-American writers.
Northern Stories of Charles W. Chesnutt
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by Charles Waddell Chesnutt, Charles Duncan (Editor)
Format: Hardcover, 224pp
Pub. Date: February 2004
Publisher: Ohio University Press
The first African American fiction writer to earn a national reputation, Charles W. Chesnutt remains best known for his depictions of Southern life before and after the Civil War. But he also produced a large body of what might best be called his "Northern" writings, and those works, taken together, describe the intriguing ways in which America was reshaping itself at the turn of the last century. The Northern Stories of Charles W. Chesnutt collects for the first time eighteen Chesnutt stories -- several of them first appearing in Northern magazines or newspapers -- that portray life in the North in the period between the Civil War and World War I. Living in Ohio from 1883 until his death in 1932, Chesnutt witnessed and wrote about the social, cultural, and racial upheavals taking place in the North during a crucial period of American history. His Northern stories thus reflect his vision of a newly reconstituted America, one recommitted to the ideals of freedom and economic opportunity inherent in our national heritage.
The stories, compiled and edited with critical introductions by Professor Charles Duncan, offer a new Chesnutt, one fascinated by the evolution of America into an urban, multiracial, economically driven democracy. The Northern Stories of Charles W. Chesnutt presents richly imagined characters, both black and white, working to make better lives for themselves in the turbulent and stimulating universe of the turn-of-the-century North. Indeed, Chesnutt stands virtually alone as the first African American chronicler of Northern culture, anticipating such figures as James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison. This critical edition of The Northern Stories of Charles W. Chesnutt is a significant addition to the body of African American literature. Ohio author Charles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932) published three novels, two collections of short stories, a biography of Frederick Douglass, and dozens of short stories and essays in prestigious magazines of his day.
Conjure Woman and Other Tales
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Publisher: Duke University Press
Pub. Date: June 1994
This edition reassembles for the first time all of Chesnutt's work in the conjure tale genre, the entire imaginative feat of which the published Conjure Woman forms a part. It also allows the reader to see how the published volume was created, how an African American author negotiated with the tastes of the dominant literary culture of the late nineteenth century, and how that culture both promoted and delimited his work.
Charles Waddell Chesnutt - Biography
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SOUTHERN CULTURE edited by Charles Reagan Wilson and William Ferris. Copyright (c) 1989 by the University of North Carolina Press. http://docsouth.unc.edu/chesnuttcolonel/about.html