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Chesnutt Charles W 1858-1932 Writer Charles Waddell Chesnutt an Afro-American man of letters was born in Cleveland Ohio on 20 June 1858 the son of free blacks who had emigrated from Fayetteville NC When he was eight years old Chesnutts parents returned to Fayetteville where Charles worked part-time in the family grocery store and attended a school founded by the Freedmens Bureau In 1872 financial necessity forced him to begin a teaching career in Charlotte NC He returned to Fayetteville in 1877 married a year later and by 1880 had become principal of the Fayetteville State Normal School for Negroes Meanwhile he continued to pursue private studies of the English classics foreign languages music and stenography Despite his successes he longed for broader opportunities and a chance to develop the literary skills that by 1880 led him toward an authors life In 1883 he moved his family to Cleveland There he passed the state bar examination and established his own court reporting firm Financially prosperous and prominent in civic affairs he resided in Cleveland for the remainder of his life The Goophered Grapevine an unusual dialect story that displayed intimate knowledge of black folk culture in the South was Chesnutts first nationally recognized work of fiction Its publication in the August 1887 issue of the Atlantic Monthly marked the first time that a short story by a black had appeared in that prestigious magazine After subsequent tales in this vein were accepted by other magazines Chesnutt submitted to Houghton Mifflin a collection of these stories which was published in 1899 as The Conjure Woman His second collection of short fiction The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color Line 1899 ranged over a broader area of southern and northern racial experience than any previous writer on black American life had attempted These two volumes were popular enough to convince Houghton Mifflin to publish Chesnutts first novel The House Behind the
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