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Zora Neale Hurston
Transcript of Zora Neale Hurston
were a period of relative decline for Hurston. Though she experienced moderate literary success with Seraph on the Suwanee (
), she also had a number of novels, including Mrs. Doctor and Barney Turk, rejected by publishers. Since she was not able to support herself through her writing, she even had to work as a maid for a brief time. At the time of her death in
, she was living off of welfare.
is the period in which Hurston became a recognized writer. In
, Opportunity, a journal run by Charles S. Johnson, published Hurston's short story "Drenched in Light." One month later, Hurston moved to New York, became a significant member of the Harlem Renaissance, publishing a number of short stories and plays. She also met Charlotte Osgood Mason, who became her patron and whose tenuous relationship with Hurston both funded Hurston's most prominent research on folklore and hoodoo and prevented her from publishing it until later in life.
Zora Neale Hurston
The Harlem Renaissance
Mason served as Hurston's patron between
. Mason was fascinated with the black arts and supported many black artists during the Harlem Renaissance. Hurston and Mason had an unusually close friendship, but it became continually more strained throughout Hurston's early career.
Charlotte Osgood Mason
Carl Van Vechten was one of Hurston's closest confidants. Van Vechten was a prominent supporter of Negro rights and was a purveyor of Negro Art. Hurston and Van Vecten enjoyed a long friendship, during which he shot many of Hurston's most iconic photos.
Carl Van Vechten
Alain Locke was the department chair of philosophy at Howard University from
. Hurston was a student under Locke during her time at Howard. Hurston and Locke eventually came into conflict, inciting Hurston to write the scathing essay "The Chick with One Hen" against Locke.
Cullen was a contemporary of Hurston's. Cullen shared with Langston Hughes the prodigious title of poet laureate of Harlem. Cullen autographed the photo seen here for Carl Van Vechten.
W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois was the editor of the official publication of the NAACP, Crisis. Du Bois acted as one of the most influential members of the Harlem Renaissance, working as a statesman, scholar, and activist for African American rights. Hurston and Du Bois regularly clashed due to his bourgeois attitudes.
Johnson was the editor and founder of Opportunity, which published Hurston's "John Redding Goes to Sea". Johnson was one of the first members of the Harlem Renaissance to show interest in Hurston's work. He often invited Hurston to important dinners, which allowed Hurston to make connections, and he encouraged her work.
Langston Hughes emerged to become one of the most influential members of the Harlem Renaissance. A poet of great and striking ability, Hughes was a naturally gifted writer and collaborated with Hurston on several projects, such as the short lived magazine Fire!!. The two were very close friends for a short time until the failed collaboration of the play "Mule Bone" ended the friendship.
Charles S. Johnson
Zora age 21 with her brother Robert (Bob)'s family. His wife Wilhemina is seated with their infant son on her lap.
Zora's father, John Hurston, and Zora's stepmother.
This photo was taken by Hurston during her folk collecting expedition. This Floridian porch is reminiscent of porch scenes throughout Hurston's corpus of work, especially in Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Polk County: Store Front Porch
Lewis was the last survivor of the last slave ship that traveled to America. Hurston drove to Mobile, Alabama to interview Lewis for the essay "Cudjo's Own Story of the Last African Slaver", for which Hurston was given much praise, but biographer Robert Hemenway revealed that Hurston plagiarized her essay from a previous source.
Portrait of Zora's parents, Lucy and John Hurston
Zora's family. Zora is likely the child in the highchair on the right.
Zora sits with her nieces Wilhemina and Winifred and her nephew Edgar, children of her brother Bob.
Locke makes a brief appearance
(9:43) in this
that focuses on Negro art.
Hughes reading "Weary Blues"
This is a collection of Barnard College's student activities during its earliest years (
The father of American anthropology, Franz Boas was a teacher and mentor to Hurston at Barnard. Hurston affectionately referred to him as "Papa Franz" and was heavily influenced by his care. One of the central tenants of Boas's anthropological theory was a rejection of myths of racial superiority. Boas's ideology can be found in Hurston's writing.
Benedict was another anthropologist serving a professorship at Barnard during Hurston's enrollment. Benedict created several pamphlets and essays that addressed the equality of the races. There was lengthy correspondence between the two ladies that lasted for close to two decades.
As founder and trustee of Barnard College, Meyer helped Hurston to attend the women's school at Columbia. Meyer was also a prolific writer and an advocate for the NAACP.
Annie Nathan Meyer
Fannie Hurst was already one of America's most talented authors when she met Hurston. Hurst was an advocate for African American rights, which connected her to Harlem and Hurston. Hurston briefly worked as Hurst's secretary, but was quickly fired. However, the two continued to be life
Founder of Eatonville, Joe Clarke, on the porch of his house.
Photo series by Carl Van Vechten,
Sanford, FL preachers and their churches, including John Hurston and his church Zion Hope Baptist.
The porch of Joe Clarke's store were the residents of Eatonville would gather to tell stories.
Zora Neale Hurston was
in Notasulga, AL.
Shortly, thereafter, her family moved to Eatonville, FL, a place that would inspire much of her later work. At the age of 13, Hurston's mother died and her father remarried, a situation which left Hurston homeless. The time between age 13 and Hurston's enrollment at Howard are considered
her "dark years." Here is what we
know about Hurston's life
from birth to Howard.
Frank and Jane Tannenbaum,
anthropologists who assisted Zora in her South Carolina expedition. Both worked at Columbia University,
Press Photo for Seraph on the Suwanee,
Zora Conducting Research in South Carolina,
Dust Tracks wins the Saturday Review's
Ainisfield Award for Racial Relations,
The prize is $1,000.
Holographic Typescript of Dust Tracks,
An autographed copy of
Seraph gifted to her
Handmade Christmas card to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Norton Baskin,
Hurston signed a contract with Charlotte Mason, which enabled her Southern folk collecting expedition. One of Hurston's interests was in Hoodoo rituals. The following portrait illustrates one of the rites she took to become a hoodoo practitioner.
March 27, 1950
Folk Tale and Hoodoo Collecting
Zora in Eau Gallie,
Hurston attended Barnard between
, studying anthropology with Franz Boas.
Hurston attended Howard University between
. She graduated with an associates degree in 1920.
Zora's last known letter. She is writing to Harper Brothers Publishers, hoping that they will be interested in her life of Herod the Great.
Jan 16, 1959
Last known photo
Zora's Ft. Pierce home where she lived from
until her death. It was made a national historic landmark in
subject of the infamous
murder trial that was covered by Hurston.
Lucy Anne Hurston, the only surviving heir
Alice Walker's famous rediscovery of Hurston has led to renewed interest in Zora's works.
Selected scenes from Patricia McGregor's production of SPUNK, stories by Zora Neale Hurston, adapted by George C. Wolfe, music by Chic Street Man.
Alice Walker reads from her favorite passage of Their Eyes Were Watching God. Also present are Sonia Sanchez, Ruby Dee, and Lucy Ann Hurston.
Zora Fest in Eatonville, Fla.
January 28, 2012
mark the peak of
Hurston's literary career. She
traveled to Florida, New Orleans, and Haiti to research folk practices and rituals of these locales. She also published numerous works including Jonah's Gourd Vine (
), Mules and Men (
), and Their Eyes Were Watching God (
). Furthermore, the
were the time in which Hurston escaped from the patronage of C. O. Mason and began to step
out on her own.
Hurston's letter of interest for Barnard.
Hurston's Barnard Transcript
Lomax Expedition, Belle Glade, Florida. (Hurston is in bottom frame, enlarged on the right.)
The only edition of Fire !! was published
Lomax Expedition, Belle Glade, Florida. (Hurston is in top frame, enlarged on the right.)
Hurston taken by
Carl Van Vechten,
May 27, 1927
, Hurston married Herbert Sheen, a doctor from Chicago. The marriage dissolved quickly; the two separated by
and divorced in
. Sheen eventually created Sheenway School and Culture Center located in Los Angles.
Photographs of Hurston taken by Prentiss Taylor.
Hurston with Rochelle French (left) and Gabrielle Brown (right) in Eatonville, Florida,
. Hurston worked with Alan Lomax and Mary Elizabeth Barnicle on this expedition to collect folk music.
Hurston poses for Prentiss Taylor while doing the crow dance (
Hurston's set design for Act I, Scene II of Spunk (
), which was based on her
short story with the same name.
Hurston dancing with children in
Hurston among children during her
visit to Eatonville.
Hurston at the New York
Book Fair in
This photo of Hurston appears in Nancy Cunard's
anthology entitled Negro.
portrait of Hurston taken by Carl Van Vechten.
Hurston at a North Carolina College for Negroes football game,
a drum in
Folklore and Anthropology
The Harlem Renaissance (Publications)
More on Barnard
Inspired by Hurston
Langston Hughes (a prominent writer, member of the Harlem Renaissance, and friend of Hurston's) and Louise Thompson traveling on a boat.
Louise Thompson, educated at UC Berkeley, worked as a secretary for Hughes and Hurston during their collaboration on the play Mule Bone.
Dorothy West: Writer and member of the Harlem Renaissance.
Mary McLeod Bethune: President of Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, where Hurston was hired to start a school of dramatic arts in
Richard Wright, an author and social activist, criticized Hurston for focusing enough on race issues in her fiction.
Hurston attempts to discuss Dust Tracks, her recently published autobiography, but the interviewer continues to raise questions about the zombie mentioned in Mules and Men,
Henry Allen Moe: Director of the Guggenheim Foundation, from which Hurston received fellowships in
Playwrights Paul Green and Richard Wright. The two collaborated on a stage adaptation of Native Son.
J.B. Lippincott & Co. published three of Hurston's four published novels as well as Mules as Men, Tell My Horse, and Dust Tracks on a Road.
Langston Hughes and Nancy Cunard (heiress and writer). Hurston contributed two essays to Cunard's Negro: An Anthology.
Hurston spent the last few years of her life in Ft. Pierce, living in a new subdivision developed by Dr. Clem C. Benton. Benton, a friend of Hurston's, allowed her to stay in her house rent free.
Letters and Manuscripts
Hurston's gravesite as it
Southern Literary Journal is dedicated to
Zora writing in Eau Gallie,
Hurston as a young woman.
Crisis, the official publication of the NAACP was founded in 1910 and edited by DuBois. This is the
Zora's legacy cannot be
measured. After her rediscovery by Alice Walker in
, Hurston has gone on to influence a number of writers including Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Gloria Naylor. She also has also become a recognized part of the American literary canon. Numerous scholars are dedicated to studying her work, and the Southern Literary Journal has a mission to publish articles on Hurston. She is also celebrated annually
in Eatonville, FL.
Opportunity was the official publication of the National Urban League. It ran from 1923 to 1949 and was edited by Charles Johnson until 1928. This edition is from