Richard Wright Award

The Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award was established in 1994 by the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration to honor the internationally known author, Richard Wright. This man was born near Natchez in 1908, the son of a country schoolteacher and a sharecropper. Wright’s first novel, Native Son, was published in 1940 and was an immediate success. His Black Boy, a fictionalized autobiography, was published in 1945 and sold 400,000 copies in three months. After leaving Natchez, Wright worked in Chicago and later moved to Paris, where he died in 1960.

Winners of the award are honored each year for a body of literary work. They must be outstanding, living writers with a strong Mississippi connection. The award has been funded each year by Natchez Newspapers Inc., publisher of The Natchez Democrat and The Miss-Lou Guide.

Wright was honored by the Celebration on June 9, 1990, when an historic marker bearing his name was erected on the Natchez Bluff in ceremonies attended by Wright family members and friends. He was also honored in February 2008 by the entire NLCC on the 100th anniversary of his birth with a conference called "Richard Wright, the South, and the World: A Centennial Celebration." During  this conference, Richard Wright was honored with the dedication of part of U.S. Highway 84 as the Richard Wright Memorial Highway.

Winners of the award are:

*  Eudora Welty, 1994
*  Margaret Walker Alexander, 1995
*  Ellen Douglas and Willie Morris, 1996
*  Shelby Foote and Elizabeth Spencer, 1997
*  Richard Ford and Will Campbell, 1998
*  Barry Hannah and Sterling Plumpp, 1999
*  Beth Henley and David Sansing, 2000
*  John Grisham and Bill Minor, 2001
*  Lewis Nordan and John Marszalek, 2002
*  T.R. Hummer and Clifton Taulbert, 2003
*  Greg Iles and William Scarborough, 2004
*  William Raspberry and Mildred D. Taylor, 2005
*  William Ferris and Noel Polk, 2006
*  Beverly F. Lowry and Al Young, 2007
*  Lerone Bennett, Jr., and Brooks Haxton, 2008
*  Carolyn Haines and Natasha Trethewey, 2009
*  Robert S. McElvaine and Steve Yarbrough, 2010
*  Rick Cleveland and Jerry W. Ward, Jr., 2011
*  Patti Carr Black and John D. W. Guice, 2012
• Jesmyn Ward and Curtis Wilkie, 2013
• Kathryn Stockett and James Meredith, 2014

 

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