Award-winning African-American playwright August Wilson has created a cultural chronicle of black America through such works as Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, and Two Trains Running. The authentic ring of wit, anecdote, homily, and plaint has proved that a self-educated Pittsburgh ghetto native can grow into a revered conduit for a century of black achievement. He forces readers and audiences to examine the despair generated by poverty and racism, exploring African-American heritage and experiences over the course of the twentieth century. This literary companion provides the reader with a source of basic data and analysis on characters, dates, events, allusions, staging strategies, and themes from the work on one of America's finest playwrights. The text opens with an annotated chronology of Wilson's life and works, followed by his family tree. Each of the 166 encyclopedic entries that make up the body of the work combines insights from a variety of sources along with generous citations; each concludes with a selected bibliography on such relevant subjects as the blues, Malcolm X, irony, roosters, and gothic mode. Charts elucidate the genealogies of Wilson's characters, the Charles, Hedley, and Maxson families, and account for weaknesses in Wilson's female characters. Two appendices complete the generously cross-referenced work: a timeline of events in Wilson's life and those of his characters, and a list of forty topics for projects, composition, oral analysis, and so on.