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About the Author
In her award-winning autobiography, Dust Trackson a Road (1942), Zora Neale Hurston claimed to have been born inEatonville, Florida, in 1901. She was, in fact, born in Notasulga, Alabama, onJanuary 7, 1891, the fifth child of John Hurston (farmer, carpenter, and Baptistpreacher) and Lucy Ann Potts (school teacher). The author of numerous books,including Their Eyes Were Watching God, Jonah's Gourd Vine, Mulesand Men, and Moses, Man of the Mountain, Hurston had achieved fameand sparked controversy as a novelist, anthropologist, outspoken essayist,lecturer, and theatrical producer during her sixty-nine years. Hurston's finestwork of fiction appeared at a time when artistic and politicalstatements--whether single sentences or book-length fictions--were peculiarlyconflated. Many works of fiction were informed by purely political motives;political pronouncements frequently appeared in polished literary prose. AndHurston's own political statements, relating to racial issues or addressingnational politics, did not ingratiate her with her black male contemporaries.The end result was that Their Eyes Were Watching God went out of printnot long after its first appearance and remained out of print for nearly thirtyyears. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., has been one among many to ask: "How couldthe recipient of two Guggenheims and the author of four novels, a dozen shortstories, two musicals, two books on black mythology, dozens of essays, and aprizewinning autobiography virtually 'disappear' from her readership for threefull decades?"
That question remains unanswered. The fact remains thatevery one of Hurston's books went quickly out of print; and it was only throughthe determined efforts, in the 1970s, of Alice Walker, Robert Hemenway (Hurston'sbiographer), Toni Cade Bambara, and other writers and scholars that all of herbooks are now back in print and that she has taken her rightful place in thepantheon of American authors.
In 1973, Walker, distressed that Hurston's writings hadbeen all but forgotten, found Hurston's grave in the Garden of Heavenly Rest andinstalled a gravemarker. "After loving and teaching her work for a numberof years," Walker later reported, "I could not bear that she did nothave a known grave." The gravemarker now bears the words that Walker hadinscribed there:
ZORA NEALE HURSTON
GENIUS OF THE SOUTH
NOVELIST FOLKLORIST ANTHROPOLOGIST
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Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) was a novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist whose fictional and factual accounts of black heritage are unparalleled. She Is the author of many books, including Their Eyes Were Watching God, Dust Tracks on a Road, Tell My Horse, and Mules and Men.
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