Chesnutt, Charles Waddell

Chesnutt, Charles Waddell

Chesnutt, Charles Waddell, 1858-1932, American author and lawyer, b. Cleveland, Ohio. In 1887 he was admitted to the Ohio bar. His short stories were first published in the Atlantic Monthly and syndicated newspapers. At first, his publishers withheld the fact that he was black. A sensitive chronicler of life in the Reconstruction South, he is best known for The Conjure Woman (1899), a series of stories about slave life. His other writings include a volume of stories, The Wife of His Youth (1899), and the novels The House Behind the Cedars (1900) and The Colonel's Dream (1905). Critics consider his finest novel to be The Marrow of Tradition (1901).

See biographies by H. M. Chesnutt (1952), J. N. Hermance (1974), and F. R. Keller (1977); studies by S. L. Render (1974) and W. L. Andrews (1980).

(born June 20, 1858, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.—died Nov. 15, 1932, Cleveland) U.S. writer, the first important African American novelist. As a young school principal in North Carolina, he was so distressed by the treatment of African Americans that he moved his family to Cleveland, where he became an attorney and began writing in his spare time. He published numerous tales and essays, two collections of short stories, a biography of Frederick Douglass, and three novels, including The Colonel's Dream (1905). A psychological realist, he used familiar scenes of folk life to protest social injustice.

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