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Zora Neale Hurston Return to the Timeline
Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston is known for her novels and collections of folklore.

Library of Congress
Zora Neale Hurston, (1891-1960), was an African American writer known for her novels and collections of folklore. Hurston's best-known novel is THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD (1937). The story sensitively portrays a young African American woman's realization of her identity and independence. Hurston wrote three other novels -- JONAH'S GOURD VINE (1934), MOSES, MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN (1939), and SERAPH ON THE SUWANEE (1948). All her novels display the author's gift for storytelling, her interest in Southern black folk customs, her metaphorical language, and her robust sense of humor.

Hurston was born on Jan. 7, 1891, in Eatonville, Florida, a town founded by African Americans. In 1928, she graduated from Barnard College, where she studied anthropology. Hurston recognized the significance of the folklore of the Southern United States and the Caribbean countries. She collected Florida folk tales and descriptions of Louisiana folk customs in MULES AND MEN (1935). In TELL MY HORSE (1938), she described folk customs of Haiti and Jamaica. A collection of folk tales from the rural South was published in 2001, after Hurston's death, as EVERY TONGUE GOT TO CONFESS. Hurston also wrote an autobiography, DUST TRACKS ON A ROAD (1942). She died on Jan. 28, 1960.

William L. Andrews, Ph.D., E. Maynard Adams Professor of English, University of North Carolina.

From THE WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA © 2007 World Book, Inc. By permission of the publisher. Visit World Book Encyclopedia for more information on Zora Neale Hurston and related subjects.

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The American Novel