August Wilson

A Literary Companion

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About the Book

Award-winning African-American playwright August Wilson created a cultural chronicle of black America through such works as Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, and Two Trains Running. The authentic ring of wit, anecdote, homily, and plaint proved that a self-educated Pittsburgh ghetto native can grow into a revered conduit for a century of black achievement. He forced readers and audiences to examine the despair generated by poverty and racism by exploring African-American heritage and experiences over the course of the twentieth century.
This literary companion provides the reader with a source of basic data and analysis of characters, dates, events, allusions, staging strategies and themes from the work of one of America’s finest playwrights. The text opens with an annotated chronology of Wilson’s life and works, followed by his family tree. Each of the 166 encyclopedic entries that make up the body of the work combines insights from a variety of sources along with generous citations; each concludes with a selected bibliography on such relevant subjects as the blues, Malcolm X, irony, roosters, and Gothic mode. Charts elucidate the genealogies of Wilson’s characters, the Charles, Hedley, and Maxson families, and account for weaknesses in Wilson’s female characters. Two appendices complete the generously cross-referenced work: a timeline of events in Wilson’s life and those of his characters, and a list of 40 topics for projects, composition, and oral analysis.

About the Author(s)

Mary Ellen Snodgrass is an award-winning author of English and Latin textbooks and reference works for 35 years. She taught at Hickory High School and Lenoir Rhyne University for 23 years. She focuses on women’s and world literature and history and general research topics, including epidemics, the history of money, clothing, food, and dance.

Bibliographic Details

Mary Ellen Snodgrass
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 276
Bibliographic Info: chronology, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1903-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0532-6
Imprint: McFarland
Series: McFarland Literary Companions

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Preface      1
Introduction      3
Chronology of Wilson’s Life and Works      5
Wilson’s Genealogy      23
August Wilson: A Literary Companion      25
Appendix A: Time Line of Hill District Residents and Events      231
Appendix B: Writing and Research Topics      237
Bibliography      243
Index      255

Book Reviews & Awards

“impressive…comprehensive and well organized…recommended”—Choice.