There he lived with his religious grandparents and aunt Addis, who were members of the Seventh-Day Adventists.
He did not share in their attitude toward religion.
Because of this he felt that he was an outsider in their home.
While at his grandparents’ home, he attended the Seventh-Day Adventist school that was taught by Addie. A year later he transferred to Jim Hill School, a public school, where he excelled academically.
In the year of 1923, Wright attended Smith Robertson Junior High School where he published his first short story “The Voodoo of Hill’s Half-Acre” in the Jackson Southern Register.
Deep in the southern states of America, when this country struggled with changes, people not only suffered from poverty, hunger, and illnesses, but people endured racism and violence. Richard Wright was born in the backwoods of Mississippi on Rucker’s plantation, twenty-five miles from Natchez, on September 8, 1908, near the community of Roxie.
Out of the hardships and unpleasantness, Richard Wright formed ideas which became the central themes of his literary work.
Wright was born to an illiterate sharecropper father, Nathaniel Wright, and a school teacher mother, Ella Wilson Wright.
Richard Wright’s roots are buried within the black, white, and Choctaw Indian races.
While Wright was still a toddler, Ella Wright also gave birth to Leon Alan Wright, Richard’s brother.
Because this story was inspired by local folklore, country sermons, and popular literature, his family criticized the piece, making Wright determined to become a writer.
Richard Wright graduated from Smith-Robertson Junior High School as class valedictorian, and at the age of seventeen he returned to Memphis with a ninth-grade education and a small amount of money. From Mencken, “Wright learned that words could serve as weapons with which to lash out at the world” (Contemporary Black Biography 294).
After Wright had lived in Memphis for two years, Ella Wright and Leon Wright joined him. Richard Wright’s study of Mencken led to the study of American naturalist writers such as Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson, and Sinclair Lewis.
Although his stay in Memphis was not long, Richard Wright became acquainted with the works of writers whose prose changed Richard’s view of literature. However, Richard Wright did not feel that his private studies were enough to keep him in Memphis.
Accompanied by his aunt Maggie, he boarded a train that was bound for Chicago.
After Nathaniel Wright’s hard work failed to produce a profit on his “rented” farm, he moved his family to Memphis, Tennessee.
Upon arrival in Memphis, the Wright family took residence in a two-room tenement, which was not far from Beale Street.
This city, which was filled with brothels, saloons, and storefront churches, forced Richard to encounter the terrors of crime, violence, and racism.
While growing up in Memphis, Richard felt the absence of his father more and more. When Richard reached the age of six years old, his father deserted the family and lived with another woman.
The desertion of Richard Wright’s father forced Richard to face another terror: poverty.
Richard developed a close bond with his uncle Silas.
However, Silas Hopkins, who was a prosperous builder and saloon-keeper, was murdered by some white people in 1917. Ella Wright’s health continued to deteriorate, and she eventually suffered from a stroke and became paralyzed.
Because no arrests were made, Maggie Hopkins, Ella Wright, and the children escaped to West Helena, Arkansas. Because of these tragic circumstances, Richard and Leon were separated.
Richard Wright moved back to Mississippi, where he lived with an aunt and uncle in Greenwood.
He then returned to Jackson because he was unhappy.
Within a year to two years after Leon’s birth, the Wright began their long quest for a better life.
Between the years 19, Ella Wright decided to leave the farm with her children.
Ella Wright and her two sons traveled twenty-five miles to Natchez.
Once in Natchez, they lived with Ella Wright’s family, the Wilsons.
While living with the Wilsons, Richard accidentally set fire to his grandparents’ home.