Zora Neale Hurston

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Hurston, Zora Neale,

1891?–60, African-American writer, b. Notasulga, Ala. She grew up in the pleasant all-black town of Eatonville, Fla. and, moving north, graduated from Barnard College, where she studied with Franz BoasBoas, Franz
, 1858–1942, German-American anthropologist, b. Minden, Germany; Ph.D. Univ. of Kiel, 1881. He joined an expedition to Baffin Island in 1883 and initiated his fieldwork with observations of the Central Eskimos.
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. Her placid childhood and privileged academic background are often cited as major reasons for her work's general lack of stress on racism, a characteristic so unlike such contemporaries as Richard WrightWright, Richard,
1908–60, American author. An African American born on a Mississippi plantation, Wright struggled through a difficult childhood and worked to educate himself.
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. An anthropologist and folklorist, Hurston collected African-American folktales in the rural South and sympathetically interpreted them in the collections Mules and Men (1935) and Tell My Horse (1938). A third volume of tales, Every Tongue Got to Confess, was discovered in manuscript and published in 2001. Hurston, a significant figure in the Harlem RenaissanceHarlem Renaissance,
term used to describe a flowering of African-American literature and art in the 1920s, mainly in the Harlem district of New York City. During the mass migration of African Americans from the rural agricultural South to the urban industrial North
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, was also the author of four novels including Jonah's Gourd Vine (1934) and the influential Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). Her plays include the comedy Mule Bone (1931), written in collaboration with her friend Langston HughesHughes, Langston
(James Langston Hughes), 1902–67, American poet and central figure of the Harlem Renaissance, b. Joplin, Mo., grad. Lincoln Univ., 1929. He worked at a variety of jobs and lived in several countries, including Mexico and France, before Vachel Lindsay
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.

Bibliography

See her autobiography (1942); C. Kaplan, ed., Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters (2002); biographies by R. E. Hemenway (1977) V. Boyd (2002), and V. L. Moylan (2011); studies by H. Bloom, ed. (1986), S. Glassman and K. L. Seidel (1991), J. Carter-Sigglow (1994), J. Lowe (1994), D. G. Plant (1995), L. M. Hill (1996), G. L. Cronin (1998), A. I. Karanja (1999), S. E. Meisenhelder (1999), and D. Miles (2002).

Hurston, Zora Neale

(1903–60) writer, anthropologist, folklorist; born in Eatonville, Fla. She studied at Howard University (1923–24), Barnard College (B.A. 1928), and did graduate work at Columbia University. She spent much of her life collecting folklore of the South (1927–31; 1938–39) and of other places such as Haiti (1937–38), Bermuda (1937–38), and Honduras (1946–48); she published her findings in such works as Mules and Men (1935). She lived in New York City and held a variety of jobs, such as teacher, librarian, and assistant to Fannie Hurst. She was associated with the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, and would later influence such writers as Ralph Ellison and Toni Morrison. She is best known for Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), a novel celebrating the lives of African-Americans. In 1950 she moved to Florida and became increasingly conservative and alienated from her fellow African-Americans, taking a stand even against school integration. She died in poverty and was all but forgotten, but by the 1970s her works were being rediscovered and recognized for their insights.