[Manuscript Copy]: Original Ending of "Long Black Song” from Uncle Tom’s Children

[Circa 1937].

Price: $7,500.00

Unbound. Five photocopied pages of Wright’s corrected Typescript. Quarto sheets, printed rectos only, with publisher's(?) control number at the top of each page. P. 33-37. All of the text has been crossed out except for the top of the first page, which shows the original ending, and a handwritten note below stating "The End"; a semi-legible note on the final sheet appears to read, “Galley A read.” Fine. An intriguing group of pages containing the original unpublished ending to the short story, "Long Black Song," published in Wright's first book, *Uncle Tom's Children*.

The published story begins with Sarah, a southern farmer’s wife, awaiting the return of her husband from town. While reminiscing about her first lover, Tom, who left for the war, a white traveling salesman stops to sell her a phonograph. He quickly turns his attention to Sarah, at first flirting, and then forcing himself on her. Later that evening when the husband returns, he is enraged to find the phonograph and evidence of a sexual encounter. Sarah flees with their baby to escape his threats, finding refuge in the nearby forest. In the morning, Sarah watches helplessly as the salesman returns for the phonograph and is shot dead by the husband who, instead of fleeing, stays to await his violent end at the hands of angry white townsfolk. The story ends with the bullet ridden home collapsing into flames as Sarah cries, “Naw, Gawd!”

This partial photocopy, which comes from the files of author Constance Webb, Wright’s biographer and friend, and who was granted intimate access to his personal papers before and after his death, reveals an even bleaker, if possible, ending. Following the murder of her husband, Sarah falls into a walking stupor until hearing an approaching car. Instead of the posse of white men, it’s three of her friends dressed in uniform, back from the war, including Tom, attracted by the sounds of gunfire and angered to hear what’s happened. Sarah tells them to run, but instead they grab their guns and head to the farm. Sarah stays by the car and listens to the sounds of the men being gunned down.


Surprisingly, we could find nothing in print or online that makes reference to this original ending. Wright’s papers are housed at Yale, which has a copy of the manuscript of *Uncle Tom’s Children*, and may be the source of this photocopy made by Webb. This appears to be only other existing copy of this ending.


Item #545559

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Item #545559 [Manuscript Copy]: Original Ending of "Long Black Song” from Uncle Tom’s Children. Richard WRIGHT.