Mississippi Matinee an Exhibition of the State and the Silver Screen
spacer image for fomat
spacer image for fomat
Introduction: Richard Wright(1)
Born in 1908 to a family of sharecroppers on a plantation not far from Natchez, Mississippi, Wright became one of the foremost authors of the twentieth century.  In 1940, his novel Native Son made its first published appearance as a Book-of-the-Month Club Selection and quickly became an international bestseller.  The story follows the misdeeds of Bigger Thomas, a black man living in a Chicago slum who accidentally kills a white woman, and then murders a black female mistakenly believing she has betrayed him to the police.  In the climactic court scene, Thomas's lawyer attempts to sway the jury by claiming that American society is partially to blame for his criminal acts. Wright refused several offers from Hollywood to adapt his story for the screen to avoid compromising his message of racial injustice.  One producer, for instance, proposed changing the race of Bigger Thomas to that of an oppressed white minority.    [go to page 2 >>]

Online exhibition © copyright 2006
Department of Archives and Special Collections
JD Williams Library, 3rd Floor
University of Mississippi
University, MS 38677
telephone: 662-915-7408
hours: 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday
spacer image for format