Kingsblood Royal, a novel by Sinclair Lewis, was published in 1947.
The protagonist, Neil Kingsblood, a white middle class man, discovers that he is partly of African American descent while researching his family background. He then begins to see himself as black, despite his lack of racial features, and is forced to choose between continuing what he now sees as a hollow existence in the white community and the oppressed minority existence of the black community. After he admits his heritage to several white friends, the news quickly spreads, and he engages in a quixotic struggle against the racism prevalent in the community. The climax of the novel comes when a mob comes to evict Neil from his house in a white suburb, and he is able to stand them down.
Kingsblood Royal has characters based in part on NAACP president Walter Francis White and his professional circles, many of whom were of mixed race and among the educated elites of black society, with relatives or friends who had chosen to live as white based on appearance. Lewis consulted White on the novel and White helped him meet numerous professional acquaintances. While some white critics found the novel contrived, the prominent African-American magazine Ebony named it the best novel of the year.
Shortly after the publication of Kingsblood Royal, a group of white supremacists sent a letter to J. Edgar Hoover encouraging the FBI to seize all copies of the book and declare Lewis's novel an act of sedition.
- Brent Staples, " 'Kingsblood Royal': When the Bard of Main Street Turned the Kingsbloods Black", The New York Times, 18 Aug 2002, accessed 12 Apr 2008
- Lingeman, 513
- Robert Fleming, "Kingsblood Royal and the Black 'Passing' Novel" in Critical Essays on Sinclair Lewis, editor Martin Bucco (Boston: G. K. Hall & Company, 1986)
- Richard Lingeman, Sinclair Lewis: Rebel from Main Street (New York: Random House, 2002)
- Mark Schorer, Sinclair Lewis: An American Life (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961)
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