Charles Stevenson Wright was born at New Franklin, Missouri, on June 4 1932. His mother died soon after his birth and his father, a railroad porter, sent him to live with his maternal grandmother. She encouraged his reading to such a degree that he quit high school in his teens because the local library provided a better education. (He later said, "I shall never forget those wonderful women at the library".)
Wright embarked on a rackety vagabond life, and hitchhiked to California by way of New Mexico. But after a girlfriend became pregnant, he returned in possession of little more than a marijuana habit and a determination to write.
By 1955, back in Manhattan, he took lowly jobs while working on his first novel, The Messenger (published in 1963).
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