Chesnutt, Charles Waddell (wädĕlˈ) [key], 1858–1932, American author and lawyer, b. Cleveland, Ohio. In 1887 he was admitted to the Ohio bar. His short stories were first published in the Atlantic Monthly and syndicated newspapers. At first, his publishers withheld the fact that he was black. A sensitive chronicler of life in the Reconstruction South, he is best known for The Conjure Woman (1899), a series of stories about slave life. His other writings include a volume of stories, The Wife of His Youth (1899), and the novels The House Behind the Cedars (1900) and The Colonel's Dream (1905). Critics consider his finest novel to be The Marrow of Tradition (1901).
See biographies by H. M. Chesnutt (1952), J. N. Hermance (1974), and F. R. Keller (1977); studies by S. L. Render (1974) and W. L. Andrews (1980).
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