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Zora Neale Hurston


Zora Neale Hurston claimed to be born in 1901 in Eatonville, Florida, though, as we now know, she was born in 1891 in Notasulga, Alabama and only moved to Eatonville as a young child. Her father was a carpenter and preacher while her mother was a teacher. After school, she attended Howard University but was unable to complete her studies, as she had no money to do so. She managed to get a scholarship to Barnard College, where she took a B.A. in anthropology. She helped found a literary magazine, Fire! with other writers who would become part of the Harlem Renaissance. She had written short stories and fables that had attracted some attention and she was soon very active in the Harlem Renaissance, publishing stories, writing plays, getting involved in dance and doing anthropological research. It was her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, written in seven weeks, that brought her most critical acclaim, though her work on folklore and anthropology was highly praised. After Their Eyes Were Watching God, she returned to her studies of voodoo in Haiti though, while there, she contracted a mysterious illness. She later worked for Federal Writers’ Project in Florida, as she needed the money. She continued to write novels and anthropological works and was persuaded to write her autobiography – Dust Tracks on a Road – which was criticised both for failing to adequately deal with race issues as well as being less than accurate. However, the book sold well. However, the quality of her writing deteriorated and she could not get her work published. Her final published novel – Seraph on the Suwanee – was about whites but still sold quite well. In later years, things got much worse. She was charged with committing an immoral act with a ten-year old (she was out of the country when the alleged act occurred). She did a variety of odd jobs, including working as a maid. She died as a result of stroke in 1960 and was buried in an unmarked grave. Thanks to the effort of Alice Walker, her reputation has been rehabilitated and she is now recognised as one of the leading African-American writers.

Books about Zora Neale Hurston

Valerie Boyd: Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston
Robert W. Croft: A Zora Neale Hurston Companion
Robert E. Hemenway: Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Biography
Carla Kaplan (editor): Zora Neale Hurston. A Life in Letters

Other links

Official site

Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston Chronology
Famous Floridians: Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Life
Black Libertarian: The Story of Zora Neale Hurston
Biography of Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1959)
Zora Neale Hurston’s Lost Decade
Why Zora Neale Hurston Was a Conservative
Photos of Zora Neale Hurston (from Google images)
All of the known Zora Neale Hurston sound recordings
The Harlem Renaissance: Zora Neale Hurston’s First Story
Everybody’s Fire Dance: Zora Neale Hurston and American Dance History
Zora Neale Hurston, the WPA in Florida, and the Cross City Turpentine Camp


1931 Fast and Furious (with Clinton Fletcher and Time Moore) (musical play)
1931 Mule Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life in Three Acts (with Langston Hughes)
1934 Jonah’s Gourd Vine (novel)
1935 Mules and Men (folklore)
1937 Their Eyes Were Watching God (novel)
1938 Tell My Horse (later: Voodoo Gods: An Inquiry into Native Myths and Magic in Jamaica; Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica) (nonfiction)
1939 Moses, Man of the Mountain (novel)
1942 Dust Tracks on a Road (autobiography)
1944 Stephen Kelen-d’Oxylion Presents Polk County: A Comedy of Negro Life on a Sawmill Camp with Authentic Negro Music (with Dorothy Waring) (drama)
1948 Seraph on the Suwanee (novel)
1979 I Love Myself When I Am Laughing… And Then Again When I Am Looking Mean And Impressive
1981 The Sanctified Church
1985 Spunk: The Selected Stories of Zora Neale Hurston
1986 The Gilded Six-Bits
1991 Mule Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life (with Langston Hughes)
1994 The Complete Stories
1995 Folklore, Memoirs and Other Writings
1995 Novels and Stories
1996 The Complete Stories
1997 Sweat
1998 Collected Essays
1999 Barracoo
2001 Every Tongue Got to Confess: Negro Folk Tales from the Gulf States
2005 The Six Fools (children’s)
2008 Collected Plays (drama)
2018 Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo
2020 Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick (stories)
2022 You Don’t Know Us Negroes (essays)