Zora Neale Hurston

ca. 1891-1960

Introduction

Born in Alabama on January 7, 1891, Zora Neale Hurston spent her early adulthood studying at various universities and collecting folklore from the South, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Big image

Early Life

Her birthplace has been the subject of some debate since Hurston herself wrote in her autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road, that Eatonville, Florida was where she was born. But, according to many other sources, she took some creative license with that fact. She probably had no memories of Notasulga, having move to Florida as a toddler. Hurston was also known to adjust her birth year from time to time as well, according to the Zora Neale Hurston Digital Archive. Her birth day, according to Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters, may not be January 7, but January 15.

Early Life continuation

Hurston was the daughter of two former slaves. Her father, John Hurston, was a pastor, and he moved the family to Florida when Hurston was very young. Following the death of her mother, Lucy Ann (Potts) Hurston, in 1904, and her father's subsequent remarriage, Hurston lived with an assortment of family members for the next few years.

Writing Career

Living in Harlem in the 1920s, Hurston befriended the likes of Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen, among several others. Her apartment, according to some accounts, was a popular spot for social gatherings. Around this time, Hurston experienced a few early literary successes, including placing in short-story and playwriting contests in Opportunitymagazine.

Hurston also had serious academic interests. She landed a scholarship to Barnard College, where she pursued the subject of anthropology and studied with Franz Boas. In 1927, Hurston returned to Florida to collect African-American folk tales. She would later publish a collection of these stories, entitled Mules and Men (1935). Hurston also contributed articles to magazines, including the Journal of American Folklore.

Also in the mid-1930s, Hurston explored the fine arts through a number of different projects. She worked with Langston Hughes on a play called Mule-Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life—disputes over the work would eventually lead to a falling out between the two writers—and wrote several other plays, including The Great Day and From Sun to Sun.

Big image