Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Zora Neale Hurston: Her Eyes Were Watching God

Zora Neale Hurston (died 28 January 1960)

By the time of her death, much of Zora Neale Hurston's work had been forgotten, including her most famous novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). In 1973, the novelist Alice Walker went in search of Hurston's grave; Walker's 1975 article, "Looking for Zora," published in the March 1975 issue of Ms., triggered a a new wave of interest in Hurston and her work.

Hurston was born in Alabama in 1891, the family relocating to Florida when she was a small child. As a young woman, she attended Howard University before transferring to Barnard College. During her time in New York, she became an important part of the Harlem Renaissance.

In 1929, she returned to Florida where she continued her writing and also undertook anthropological field research. With support from the Guggenheim Foundation, she expanded her work into Jamaica and Haiti in the 1930; in the 40s she was doing fieldwork in Honduras.

Zora Neale Hurston,
c. 1935-43
Hurston's life is complicated, her literary output notable, her political and anthropological work significant. There are so many online sites, biographies, and new editions of her books that I'll just link you to the homepage of the Zora Neale Hurston Trust, and you can take it from there . . .

(It's not easy to find Alice Walker's 1975 article, originally published in Ms., or at least it's not easy to find it online, but, for the moment, it's available here.)

Update, 28 January 2023: In January 2023, the PBS series, American Experience, broadcast a new documentary, Zora Neale Hurston: Claiming a Space. For more information, including a biography, several articles, and digital shorts, click here. (An earlier PBS documentary, Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun, was included in the American Masters series.)

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