Richard Bradbury

Lessing's legacy

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For a writer as prolific as she was - she wrote more than 50 books - that's not surprising. This unevenness was also, to some significant degree, the product of her political choices over nearly 70 years.

Lessing grew up in the profoundly racist society of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and her early reaction to that was to explore the complexities of inter-racial relationships in her first novel, The Grass is Singing, and then to join the tiny and secretive Communist Party (CP).

Classic read: Native Son

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Richard Wright

Native Son was first published in 1940

Richard Wright had every good reason to be angry. He grew up in the US Deep South in the 1920s and 1930s, when segregation and systematic violence towards African-Americans were at their height. In his autobiography, Black Boy, he remembers seeing the dismembered body parts of a lynched relative displayed in the windows of local white businesses as a marketing strategy.

A Long Way from Home

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Richard Bradbury recalls the life and work of the black poet Claude McKay.

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?

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