When Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom opened in 1984, August Wilson was unknown in theatre. By 1988 he was described as the foremost dramatist of the American black experience and was the most acclaimed playwright of his time by 1990. He is one of only seven American playwrights to win two Pulitzer prizes and one of only three black playwrights to receive that award. Remarkably, Wilson has been able to explore and communicate the American black experience, while also achieving a universality that attracts the white audiences needed for commercial success. Based on extensive research that includes two interviews with Wilson, this reference book is a comprehensive guide to Wilson’s life and career.The volume begins with a chronology outlining the principle events in Wilson’s rise from the racism he experienced as a youth in Pittsburgh to his triumphs on the New York stage. A brief biography illuminates his approach to writing plays, his outlook on life and the theatre, and the way his experiences have shaped his art. The volume then provides plot synopses for each of Wilson’s plays, an overview of their critical reception, production histories, and extensive annotated bibliographic information. Thus the book provides a detailed record of the development of interest in Wilson’s work from the critical acclaim of his early plays to his recent controversial debate with Robert Brustein.