Zora Neale Hurston was born in Notasulga, Alabama, on January 7th, 1891. Hurston’s family moved to Eatonville, Florida when she was three. Eatonville was one of the first all-black towns incorporated in the United States, and Hurston occasionally claimed it as her birthplace.
As she grew up, Hurston worked as a maid before finishing high school as a nontraditional student. She then went on to Howard University, where she co-founded the university’s student newspaper and participated in the Zeta Phi Beta sorority, which was founded by and for black women. Eventually, a scholarship allowed Hurston to study at Barnard College of Columbia University, where she was the only black student on campus. She received her B.A. in Anthropology at the age of 37.
Graduate studies brought Hurston to live in Harlem in the 1920s, the peak of the Harlem Renaissance. She quickly became familiar with writers and poets such as Langston Hughes, and Hurston herself became one of the faces of Harlem’s literary movement.
Several of Hurston’s writings include:
Sadly, Hurston died in relative obscurity in the 1960s, but her work is now recognized as historically and aesthetically important today. You can check out many of her books right here at the library; just click here to see what’s available.