FeatherPenClipArtCharles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932) was born in Cleveland, Ohio, of parents Andrew and Ann Maria Chesnutt, “free persons of color” from North Carolina. Charles was of racially mixed heritage, and now would probably suffer from being “not black enough.” Although he could have passed as white, he grew up as an African American and continued to identify strongly as black.

After the end of the Civil War, the family moved back to Fayetteville, NC, where Andrew Chesnutt opened a grocery store. Charles attended the Howard School for black students and later became a teacher and assistant principal. In 1878 he married Susan Perry and the couple moved to New York City briefly and then back to Cleveland. Charles studied law and passed the bar exam, then established a profitable court reporting business.

With prosperity ensured, Chesnutt took up writing stories, which were well-received and published in nationally recognized magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly. During his lifetime, Chesnutt completed a number of works including stories, collections, novels and a biography of Frederick Douglass. One of Chesnutt’s most important works was his first book, a collection of short stories titled The Conjure Woman, published in 1899. The stories were folk tales of the supernatural that reveal black resistance to slavery and revenge against white culture. The book was adapted by Oscar Micheaux as a silent film and released as The Spider’s Web in 1926.

This information is from Chesnutt’s article at Wikipedia. You can read more here.

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