An associate professor of English at Peace College, Raleigh, North Carolina, Charles Duncan is the author of The Absent Man: The Narrative Craft of Charles W. Chesnutt and numerous articles on American literature. He received the Charles Waddell Chesnutt Association’s Sylvia Lyons Render Award for his work in Chesnutt studies.
As the first African-American fiction writer to achieve a national reputation, Ohio native Charles W. Chesnutt (1858—1932) in many ways established the terms of the black literary tradition now exemplified by such writers as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Charles Johnson.
The first African American fiction writer to earn a national reputation, Charles W. Chesnutt remains best known for his depictions of Southern life before and after the Civil War. But he also produced a large body of what might best be called his “Northern” writings, and those works, taken together, describe the intriguing ways in which America was reshaping itself at the turn of the last century.