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Native Son by  RICHARD WRIGHT - First Edition - 1940 - from S.E. Murphy Rare Books (SKU: 10)

Native Son

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Native Son


  • Used
  • fine
  • hardcover
  • First
Fine/Very good
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Knoxville, Tennessee
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About This Item

New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1940. First Edition. Hardcover. Fine/Very good. 8vo. Stated first edition with A-P on title page. Bound in publisher's grey cloth with gold lettering to the spine. Second issue dust jacket with minor chipping to bottom of spine. A fine copy of this rare book. Wright received a Guggenheim Fellowship to complete his novel, an immediate best seller and portrayal of black youth in the US. Right from the start, Bigger Thomas is headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it is for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.


Richard Wright’s Native Son tells the story of 20-year-old Bigger Thomas, a black American youth living in utter poverty in Chicago's South Side during the 1930s. When Bigger unintentionally murders a white woman, he is put on trial and eventually convicted, and sentenced to the electric chair. Often recognized as a protest novel, Native Son stresses systemic racial issues, prompting the reader to feel both sympathy and empathy for Bigger. In this, the novel is one of the earliest successful attempts to explain the racial divide in America in terms of the conditions imposed on African-Americans by the dominant white society. Soon after publication, Native Son was selected by the Book of the Month Club as its first book by an African-American author. Indeed, the novel was an immediate best seller, selling 250,000 hardcover copies within three weeks of its publication. As a result of the novel’s success, Wright became the first bestselling and the wealthiest black writer of his time, establishing him as a spokesperson for African-American issues and, to many, the “father of Black American literature.” In 1941, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People awarded Wright awarded the prestigious Spingarn Medal. Unsurprisingly, Native Son was challenged in many public schools and libraries and is listed in the American Library Association's list of the “Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999.” Yet most institutions in which the novel was challenged successfully fought to keep Wright's work accessible, particularly in the classroom, defending it as a guide into the reality of the complex adult and social world.   Native son is listed as 20th on the Modern Library’s list of the “100 Best” English-language novels of the 20th century. It is also included in TIME’s “100 Best Novels” (since 1923).

Read more: Identifying first editions of Native Son


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S.E. Murphy Rare Books US (US)
Bookseller Inventory #
Native Son
Book condition
Used - Fine
Jacket condition
Very good
Quantity available
First Edition
Harper & Brothers Publishers
Place of Publication
New York
Date published
Richard Wright, Native Son, modern literature, 20th century literature

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About the Seller

S.E. Murphy Rare Books

Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers. member since: 2020
Knoxville, Tennessee
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About S.E. Murphy Rare Books

S. E. Murphy Rare Books has been buying, selling, and collecting rare books and fine manuscripts for over two decades. Our extensive inventory specializes in fine, rare, and out-of-print books with an emphasis in Bibles, fine bindings, classics and classical studies, early printed books, religious studies, economics, science, exploration, 19th century literature, and modern firsts.


Some terminology that may be used in this description includes:

Sometimes used as another term for dust jacket, a protective and often decorative wrapper, usually made of paper which wraps...[more]
title page
A page at the front of a book which may contain the title of the book, any subtitles, the authors, contributors, editors, the...[more]
"Cloth-bound" generally refers to a hardcover book with cloth covering the outside of the book covers. The cloth is stretched...[more]
A defect in which small pieces are missing from the edges; fraying or small pieces of paper missing the edge of a paperback, or...[more]
First Edition
In book collecting, the first edition is the earliest published form of a book. A book may have more than one first edition in...[more]
A book in fine condition exhibits no flaws. A fine condition book closely approaches As New condition, but may lack the...[more]
The outer portion of a book which covers the actual binding. The spine usually faces outward when a book is placed on a shelf....[more]

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