Zora Neale Hurston
Richelle Lewis 4th Red
- Born January 7, 1891, in Notasulga, Alabama (claimed to be born in 1901 in Eatonville, FL) to parents Lucy and John Hurston
- 5th of 8 children
- Moved to Eatonville as a young child (the 1st all-black town in the US)
- Attended school in Eatonville until age of 13
- Mother died in 1904, father quickly remarried & gave less attention to kids
- Joined travelling circus at age of 16 which brought her to New York during the Harlem Renaissance
- Went to Howard University (1921-1924) where she won a scholarship to Barnard College to study anthropology
- Graduated from Barnard in 1928
- attended Columbia University for her graduate studies in anthropology, also conducted field studies in folklore among African Americans
- Collaborated with Langston Hughes (African American poet & author) on an unfinished play: Mule Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life in Three Acts
- Published first novel, Jonah's Gourd Vine, in 1934;
- Continued writing novels including Their Eyes Were Watching God, Tell My Horse (travel writing and anthropology based on voodoo found in Haiti), and Moses, Man of the Mountain, which established her as a major author
- Known for her wit, irreverence, and folk writing style
- never made much money from her work
- Served on faculty of North Carolina Central University & on the staff of the Library of Congress
- wrote autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road, in 1942
- Last book was Seraph on the Suwanee in 1948
- Died January 28, 1960 (age 69) from a stroke; buried in a segregated cemetery
- Her work was forgotten after her death until the late 20th century when there was a revival of Hurston's work and several of her collections were published
Hurston in the Harlem Renaissance
As a leader in the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston was a revolutionary in helping protect African American rights. The Harlem Renaissance was a time of blossoming African American culture that spanned from the early 1920s through the 1930s, especially in the arts and literature. Being raised in the first all-black town in America helped her form her image of a strong African American race. Literature had a huge impact on the Harlem Renaissance, and Hurston's writing provided a needed feminine voice in a movement that was mostly dominated by men. Her intentions were not to make people pity the African Americans; she wanted to provide the vision of a strong and independent race since she didn't like the idea of black Americans being portrayed as victims of white society. This idea did not sit well with parts of Harlem and black America as a whole. However, she put others' opinions aside and used her bold voice to show how the black-dominant Harlem could foster her ideas.
Hurston in the 21st Century
If I Were Zora Neale Hurston...
Their Eyes Were Watching God
In the 21st century, this novel would be taken in with open arms. Women would embrace it because of Janie's sense of independence from men that is embodied by the current feminist movement. The ideas that were once revolutionary when the novel was written would be considered elementary in the 21st century.
Hurston vs. Hawthorne
Boyd, Valerie. Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston. New York: Scribner, 2003. Print. 13 Dec. 2014
Boyd, Valerie. "Zora Neale Hurston." Zora Neale Hurston. The Estate of Zora Neale Hurston. Web. 15 April 2015.
Daley, Christine. "A Rocky Road to Posterity: The Publication of Zora Neale Hurston." Women Writers. Sept. 2000. Web. 20 April 2015.
Hutchinson, George. "Harlem Renaissance: American Literature and Art." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 9 Feb. 2009. Web. 10 April 2015.
"Zora Neale Hurston Quotes." Zora Neale Hurston Quotes (Author of Their Eyes Were Watching God). Goodreads Inc. Web. 29 March 2015.
"Zora Neale Hurston's Trials and Tribulations Through the Harlem Renaissance." History Engine: Tools for Collaborative Education and Research. The University of Richmond, 13 Dec. 1934. Web. 17 April 2015.
"Zora Neale Hurston: American Author." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 21 Oct. 2014. Web. 9 March 2015.