last look  
spacer spacer spacer
yalealumnimagazine.com   about the Yale Alumni Magazine   classified & display advertising   back issues 1992-present   our blogs   The Yale Classifieds   yam@yale.edu   support us


The Yale Alumni Magazine is owned and operated by Yale Alumni Publications, Inc., a nonprofit corporation independent of Yale University.

The content of the magazine and its website is the responsibility of the editors and does not necessarily reflect the views of Yale or its officers.


Comment on this article

Happy holidays

last look

On Christmas Eve, 1943, Richard Wright (1908-1960) was sent this telegram by Paul R. Reynolds Jr., his literary agent. (The telegram is now in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which recently celebrated Wright’s centennial.) Several years earlier, Wright’s Native Son had become the first best-selling novel by an African American. But the new manuscript was “a very different, more personal, type of work,” observes novelist Caryl Phillips, who teaches writing at Yale. “In other words, a risk.” He calls it “one of the great American coming-of-age texts.”

The first part of the book, an account of Wright's upbringing in the Jim Crow South, was published as Black Boy. Reynolds was right about one thing: it was a huge commercial success. But he was wrong about the editing. Not only was the manuscript cut in two, but the second part wasn’t published until long after Wright died. Phillips’s comment: “So much for editorial work 'of a most minor nature'!”



©1992–2012, Yale Alumni Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

Yale Alumni Magazine, P.O. Box 1905, New Haven, CT 06509-1905, USA. yam@yale.edu