Zora Neale Hurston

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Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston was a novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist. Zora plays an important role for the Harlem Renaissance. Zora Neale Hurston is considered one of the titans of twentieth-century African American literature. Despite that she would later fall into disgrace because of her firm views of civil rights, her lyrical writing which praise southern black culture has influenced generations of black American literary figures. Hurston’s work also had an impact on later black American authors such as Ralph Ellison, Alice Walker, and Toni Morrison.

The early life of Zora Neale Hurston has been covered in mystery. While the majority of biographical accounts list the year of her birth as 1901, just as many list 1903, and in a 1993 biography film they list her birth day as 1891.

Hurston's parents were Lucy Ann Potts, a schoolteacher, and John Hurston, a carpenter and Baptist preacher. Her father was a three-term mayor.

In 1904, her mother died and her father sent her to a private school in Jacksonville.

At the age of twenty-six she enrolls at the high school division of Morgan College. Although it is believe that she was twenty-six years old at the time of enrollment, she listed her age as sixteen and 1901 as her birthday. Hurston graduated from Morgan Academy, the high school division of Morgan College, in 1918. Later that year, she began her undergraduate studies at Howard University. While at Howard, Hurston became one of the earliest initiates of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and co-founded The Hilltop, the University's student newspaper. Hurston left Howard in 1924, unable to support herself.

Hurston was offered a scholarship to Barnard College where she received her Bachelor Degree in anthropology in 1927. While she was at Barnard, she conducted ethnographic research under her advisor, the noted anthropologist Franz Boas of Columbia University. She also worked with Ruth Benedict as well as fellow anthropology student Margaret Mead.

Upon reaching adulthood Zora was working as a domestic. She still manages to travel throughout the country. She met a young black poet name Herbert Sheen, who, on 19 May 1927, became her first husband. As Sheen later told Hurston's biographer, Hemenway, the marriage was doomed "to an early, amicable divorce" because Hurston's career was her first priority. Her ambition also led to tension other romance in her life. Hurston married and divorced three husbands and, at age 44, fell in love with 23-year-old Percy Punter.
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