Zora Neale Hurston (ca. 1891–1960) was a writer and anthropologist associated with the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s. Hurston grew up in Eatonville, Florida, the first incorporated African American town in the nation. Hurston published her first short story in 1921, while still a student at Howard University. In 1925, Hurston received a scholarship to Barnard College and moved to New York City, where she joined other black writers and artists in the Harlem Renaissance. Hurston continued to publish and studied anthropology, and in 1928 she graduated from Barnard. Sponsored by Charlotte Louise Mason, a wealthy white philanthropist, Hurston traveled through Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana as an anthropologist, gathering African American folklore, prayers, sermons, and stories that would inform her fiction and non-fiction. Back in New York in 1930 Hurston collaborated with Langston Hughes in writing a play called Mule Bone. She published her first novel in 1934 and her first anthropological study in 1935. In 1937, Hurston published another novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Hurston’s work centered on the lives of African Americans in the South and on African American folk culture. She published her last novel in 1948 and died in obscurity in 1960.

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