NEW! Zora Neale Hurston profile at the Black Atlantic Resource. This new resource includes links to a vast array of primary sources including many of Hurston’s writings, a number of recordings she made for the WPA in the 1930s, and clips from a great documentary about Hurston’s life: ‘Jump at the Sun’.
Hurston was a vivid personality, a great writer, and a key figure of the Harlem Renaissance. She was a well educated anthropologist, playwright and novelist, her works including the novel ‘There Eyes were Watching God’ and collection of folklore: ‘Mules and Men’. Hurston had a deep appreciation of African diasporic folk culture which is celebrated throughout her work. Particularly important are her writings on African-American folktales. These vibrantly record the artistic and inventive telling of folk tales in dialect, at a time when many other key figures in American culture did not value or approve of such representations of black culture.
For many years Hurston’s writings lay in obscurity until they were rediscovered by a new generation. Alice Walker reawakened interest with her article ‘In Search of Zora Neale Hurston’ (1975) and Hurston has since been cited as an influence by Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Oprah Winfrey amongst others.
Fiercely original and unique Hurston was criticized by many of her contemporaries including Langston Hughes and W.E.B. DuBois for pandering to the tastes of white audiences, particularly her patroness of many years, Charlotte Osgood, and reproducing stereotypes of blackness. However Hurston did not relent declaring “I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions.”