Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

September 27, 1941

On September 27, 1941, the Pittsburgh Courier ran an article about the stage adaptation of Richard Wright’s novel Native Son. The play was directed by Orson Welles and starred Canada Lee as Bigger Thomas. “Hailed as the best dramatic novel of the season, ‘Native Son’ was not as easily transferable to the stage as might at first have appeared,” the Courier noted. “When Richard Wright, the author, realized the difficulties inherent in a dramatization, he called upon Paul Green, playwright of the Pulitzer Prize winning ‘In Abraham’s Bosom,’ ‘The House of Connelly,’ and ‘Johnny Johnson’ for assistance. Together they have wrought a play in several scenes ranging from the Thomas parlor bedroom-kitchen in a Chicago tenement to the prison death row in which Bigger awaits his eventual doom.” The New York Times praised the play, which it described as the “biggest American drama of the season.”

To read more, see Mona Smith’s Becoming Something: The Story of Canada Lee.

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