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C. W. Chesnutt, Negro Author, Dies

C. W. Chesnutt, Negro Author, Dies

Began Literary Career in 1887 With Book of Short Stories of North Carolina Plantation.


One-Time Reporter In New York – Studied Law in Cleveland, Later Becoming Court Reporter.

CLEVELAND, Nov. 15 (AP). – Charles Waddell Chesnutt, well-known Negro author of books published three decades ago, died today at his home here. He was 74 years old.

Mr. Chesnutt, who started his literary career in 1887, was among the nation's leading literary men invited to the dinner celebrating Mark Twain's seventieth birthday. He won the 1928 Spingarn Medal awarded annually by the Association for the Advancement of Colored People to the Negro of outstanding achievement.

When Mr. Chesnutt submitted his first book–a collection of short stories published over a period of thirteen years in The Atlantic Monthly–to Houghton Mifflin Company, Walter Hines Page, the publisher's literary adviser, who later became Ambassador to the Court of Saint James' was so fascinated by the tales he sat up all night to read the manuscript.

That book, "The Conjure Woman," as all of Mr. Chesnutt's books, dealt with problems, tribulations and joys of the Negro. It was built around folklore of the North Carolina plantations, where Mr. Chesnutt spent much of his youth.

Another collection of his short stories was published under the title, "The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories." Other books were "The House Behind the Cedars," "The Colonel's Dream," "The Marrow of Tradition," and a biography of Frederick Douglass.

Mr. Chesnutt, born here on June 20, 1858, moved to North Carolina with his parents when he was 8. He served two years as principal of a normal school there, then went to New York as a reporter and returned to Cleveland fifty years ago to study law. He became associated for a time with Virgil P. Kline, counsel for John D. Rockefeller and the Standard Oil interests. He later gave up the practice of law in favor of court reporting, a profession which occupied him throughout his business life.

His widow, the former Susan Nutley Perry of Fayetteville, N. C., and three daughters and a son survive.