Toomer, Jean

Toomer, Jean,

1894–1967, American writer, b. Washington, D.C., as Nathan Eugene Toomer. A major figure of the Harlem Renaissance, he is known mainly for Cane (1923, rev. ed. 1988, 2011), a collection of stories, poems, and sketches about African-American life in rural Georgia and the urban North. He also wrote other poetry, essays, and plays.


See biography by R. Eldridge and C. E. Kerman (1987); N. Y. McKay, Jean Toomer, Artist (1984); G. Fabre, Jean Toomer and the Harlem Renaissance (2000).

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Toomer, Jean (Eugene Nathan)

(1894–1967) poet, writer; born in Washington, D.C. He studied at the University of Wisconsin (1914), and City College, N.Y. (1917), and worked briefly as a superintendent of a black rural school in Georgia (1921). He studied with a mystic in France (1924), lived in Harlem (1925) and Chicago (1926–33), then married and settled in Pennsylvania (1934). An important writer of the Harlem Renaissance, he is best known for Cane (1923), a work combining poetry, fiction, and drama.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
By his own account, Toomer reports "seven blood mixtures: French, Dutch, Welsh, Negro, German, Jewish, and Indian" which led him to "strive for a spiritual fusion analogous to the fact of racial intermingling." In her study of Jean Toomer, Jean Toomer, Artist: A Study of His Literary Life and Work, 1894-1936, Nellie McKay suggests Toomer "wanted to see black reaction against the Anglo-Saxon ideal." By rejecting race, Toomer attempted to enter certain truths of American genealogy into social consciousness.
Cane Experimental novel by Toomer, Jean , published in 1923 and reprinted in 1967, about the black experience in the United States.