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Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance Hardcover – September 10, 2013
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*Starred Review* Frustrated by the lack of information about the strong-minded white women who played intriguing, often vexing roles in the Harlem Renaissance and who were known collectively as Miss Anne, Kaplan (Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters, 2002) took up the challenge and through arduous research reclaimed astonishing and provocative lives. She presents six indelible portraits of taboo-breakers who were reviled as “either monstrous or insane” for their involvement in African American culture. Each biography is shaped by Kaplan’s vivid scene-setting, historical perspective, psychological sensitivity, narrative panache, and frank analysis of the virulent sexism and racism of 1920s America and the confluence in Harlem of grim social conundrums and a spectacular creative flowering. Kaplan’s audacious, contrary and tragic subjects include Texan Josephine Cogdell Schuyler, a spitfire journalist who married the controversial African American newspaper editor and writer, George Schuyler; Charlotte Osgood Mason, who established herself as a meddlesome patron of Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and Alain Locke, “one of the chief architects of the Harlem Renaissance”; and scandalous steamship heiress Nancy Cunard, who, to the surprise of nearly everyone, edited the era’s “most comprehensive anthology of black life.” Kaplan’s meticulously documented and intrepid history of Miss Anne encompasses a unique vantage on the complexities of race and gender and a dramatic study in paradox. --Donna Seaman
“Professor Kaplan, a biographer of the writer Zora Neale Hurston, captivatingly illuminates and places in overdue perspective.” (New York Times)
“In this remarkable work of historical recovery . . . [Kaplan] resurrects Miss Anne as a cultural figure and explores the messy contradictions of her life . . . deeply researched.” (New York Times Book Review)
“An empathetic and skillful writer, Kaplan . . . shares the previously untold story of a group of notable white women who embraced black culture--and life--in Harlem in the 1920s and ‘30s. . . . Captivating.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Endlessly fascinating, Miss Anne in Harlem reveals a whole new perspective on the Harlem Renaissance, and Carla Kaplan delivers an essential and absorbing portrait of race and sex in 20th century America.” (Gilbert King, author of Devil in the Grove)
“With superb, exhaustive research and finely dramatic writing, Carla Kaplan’s brilliant Miss Anne in Harlem fills an aching void in our knowledge of the Harlem Renaissance. It also significantly deepens our understanding of American culture in the 1920s and American feminism in general.” (Arnold Rampersad, author of The Life of Langston Hughes)
“A work of meticulous and far-ranging scholarship, Miss Anne in Harlem matches its characters’ shocking and subversive lives with explosive revelations and subtle insights. . . . Kaplan’s haunting narrative forces a rethinking of race and gender.” (Megan Marshall, author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life and The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism)
“[An] utterly fascinating and deeply insightful account. . . . This fine book takes the Misses Anne seriously and goes further, to reveal the workings of interracial networks in one of the most important cultural phenomena in American history.” (Nell Irvin Painter, author of The History of White People)
“The fact that white women played a pivotal role in creating the Harlem Renaissance was a secret hiding in plain sight, but it took Carla Kaplan’s keen eye, rigorous research, and crystal clear prose to reveal it. A surprising, delightful book.” (Debby Applegate, author of The Most Famous Man in America)
“Carla Kaplan has taken on a dauntingly liminal topic and by force of scholarly rigor and narrative compassion rendered it central to our understanding of an era. Lush, original, and vigorously argued....” (Diane McWhorter, author of Carry Me Home)
“Kaplan always writes from inside her characters, and with a novelist’s sense of scope—and compassion.” (Hilton Als, New Yorker.com)
“Kaplan’s meticulously documented and intrepid history of Miss Anne encompasses a unique vantage on the complexities of race and gender and a dramatic study in paradox.” (Booklist (starred review))
“(Kaplan’s) extensive research has given life to a critical period in black American history-and given credit to the white women who, for various reasons, helped the Harlem Renaissance flourish.” (NPR.org)
“[A] revelatory book. . . . Aside from its significance as cultural history, Miss Anne in Harlem is packed with amazing life stories.” (NPR's Fresh Air)
“[R]ichly researched, thoughtful new book.” (Boston Globe)
“In her clear-sighted, empathetic assessment of a half-dozen of these women, Carla Kaplan casts a fresh eye over people and relationships too often reduced to stereotypes.” (Daily Beast)
“[An] intriguing new book.” (Washington Post Book World)
“Carla Kaplan has given us and history a great gift.” (New York Journal of Books)
Top customer reviews
I wanted to have it handy for reference in my own writings.
It is an amazing, true tale of amazing real "white" women who defied the still bright "color line" that runs through the middle of America. The story of Nancy Cunard alone is worthy of a major motion picture. But even now, Hollywood seems afraid to touch that much truth about US.
with the artist and the white women open the door for Greatness......Zora Neale Hurston became a great writer
once the doors were open.