The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color-Line (1899) is a collection of short stories by African American writer, lawyer, and political activist Charles Chesnutt. Originally published in a July 1888 edition of The Atlantic—in which, in 1887, Chesnutt became the first African American to have a story published in its pages—“The Wife of His Youth” has become the author’s most frequently anthologized story. The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color-Line contains nine stories and three essays by Charles Chesnutt, a pioneer of African American literature. The title story of the collection follows Mr. Ryder, a light skinned man living in a city in the American Midwest. The founder of the Blue Veins Society, a local club whose members consist of black men with European ancestry, Mr. Ryder plans to propose to a beautiful mixed-race woman named Molly Dixon. As the day of the Blue Vein Ball approaches—he hopes to propose on stage while giving a speech—Ryder meets an older black woman named Liza Jane who assisted her husband, Sam Taylor, in escaping north before the Civil War, but never heard from him again. “The Passing of Grandison,” another story in the collection, is a tale of racial passing set in the 1850s that follows a slave who travels to Canada with the help of a white man. The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color-Line is a masterful work of short fiction and essay writing from a pioneer of African American literature. With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Charles Chesnutt’s The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color-Line is a classic of African American literature reimagined for modern readers.
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