Fun Facts Friday: Zora Neale Hurston

January 7, 2022

Zora Neale Hurston (7 January, 1891 – 28 January, 1960) was an author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. She is known for portraying the racial struggles in the early 1900s American South.

Fun Facts Friday: Zora Neale Hurston
Books by Zora Neale Hurston*

Fun Facts about Zora Neale Hurston:

  1. Hurston was born in Notasulga, Alabama. She was the fight of eight children, granddaughter of slaves. He father was a carpenter, and her mother was a teacher.
  2. Three years after her birth, the family moved to Eatonville, Florida. Eatonville was the first all-black towns incorporated in the United States. Her father was elected mayor in 1897.
  3. Hurston graduated from Barnard College with a degree in anthropology, training under scientist Franz Boas, the father of American anthropology. She was the first African-American woman to graduate from the college. Mr. Boas also helped her get a fellowship which allowed her to return to Florida and collect tales which would make it into her novels Mules and Men, as well as Tell My Horse.
  4. The author traveled to Plateau, Alabama to interview Cudjo Lewis, the last known survivor of the transatlantic slave trade. She complied his horrifying stories of capture, passage, enslavement in Alabama, and life after emancipation in the book Barracoon: The Store of the Last “Black Cargo”.
    The novel was finished in 1931, but wasn’t published until 2018.
  5. Sadly, Ms. Hurston died of a stroke in a St. Lucie County Welfare Home due to financial and medical difficulties. She was buried in an unmarked grave.
  6. In 1973, Alice Walker and Charlotte D. Hunt found the general area of her grave and decided it mark it. Zora Neale Hurston got on Alice Walker’s radar while in college, she posed as her niece while digging for information in Eatonville.
  7. Hurston was known for making up details about her life as she went along (sometimes it was just necessary to do so). For example, she was forced out of school when she was 13 years told because her father refused to pay her tuition. She worked as a maid and actress for the next decade, but shaved 10 years off her age so she could finish high school. This led to Ms. Walker and Ms. Hunt to put the wrong birth year on her gravestone, 1901 instead of 1891.
    The stories confused a lot of people, including Zora Neale Hurston’s biographer, Robert Hemenway who recorded her birth year incorrectly as well.
  8. In 1937, the book Their Eyes Were Watching God was published and faced harsh criticism. Ms. Hurston was accused of whitewashing the racial status quo, as well as pandering to white audiences. Ms. Hurston never recovered financially from the reviews and worked the rest of her life as a maid in Miami, FL.
  9. Follow Alice Walker’s essay about Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God was republished in 1978, 30 years after it went out of print. Reevaluated, the book is now considered a classic, and was made into a movie in 2005.
  10. A collection of short stories which Ms. Hurston wrote between 1927 and 1937 called Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick, was finally published in 2020.

Books by Zora Neale Hurston*

Zohar — Man of la Book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books

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Fun Facts Friday: Zora Neale Hurston
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Fun Facts Friday: Zora Neale Hurston
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Zora Neale Hurston (7 January, 1891 – 28 January, 1960) was an author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. She is known for portraying the racial struggles in the early 1900s American South.
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Man of la Book - A Bookish Blog
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