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Harlem Renaissance: Writers

A guide to the literature, art and music of the cultural period.

Langston Hughes 1902-1967

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James Mercer Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance. He famously wrote about the period that "the negro was in vogue" which was later paraphrased as "when Harlem was in vogue" ` from Wikipedia

Zora Neale Hurston 1891-1960

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Zora Neale Hurston was an American folklorist, anthropologist, and author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance. Of Hurston's four novels and more than 50 published short stories, plays, and essays, she is best known for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. ~ from Wikipedia

Library Resources

The Writers

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A list of some of the other notable writers during this time period.

  • Alain Leroy Lock
  • Countee Porter Cullen
  • James Arthur Baldwin
  • James Weldon Johnson
  • Nella Larsen
  • William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) Du Bois

Jean Toomer 1894-1967

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Jean Toomer was an American poet and novelist and an important figure of the Harlem Renaissance. His first book Cane, published in 1923, is considered by many his most significant. Toomer was born Nathan Eugene Pinchback Toomer in Washington, D.C. His father was a prosperous farmer, originally born into slavery in Hancock County, Georgia. His mother, Nina Pinchback, was of mixed ethnic descent.

As a child in Washington, Toomer attended all-black schools. When his mother re-married and they moved to suburban New Rochelle, New York, he attended an all-white school. After his mother's death, Toomer returned to Washington to live with his Pinchback grandparents. He graduated from the M Street School, an academic black high school. By his early adult years, Toomer resisted racial classifications and wanted to be identified only as an American.

Toomer wrote a small amount of fiction and published essays in Quaker publications during this time, but devoted most of his time to serving on Quaker committees and working with high school students. ~ from Wikipedia