Dorothy West (1907-1998) started writing as a child and began receiving accolades and awards while still in her teens. In 1926 she traveled to New York City to accept an award for one of her short stories and never left. Finding community in the city, West became part of the Harlem Renaissance and was known by her contemporaries as “The Kid”. Her writing is admired for the details and examinations of the African American community, in areas such as gender, class and social matter.
Her first novel The Living is Easy, published in 1948, is about an upper class black family; It remained her only novel for a long time. West spent most her time writing short stories and editing and publishing the magazine Challenge, the first to feature literature about realistic depictions by and about African Americans, and later she started New Challenge, which did not last very long. Her second novel, The Wedding, was published in 1995 when she was 85 years old, to much acclaim. It was adapted into a television mini-series in 1998.
- The Living is Easy
- The Wedding
- The Richer, The Poorer
- The Dorothy West Martha’s Vineyard
- Where The Wild Grape Grows: Selected Writings, 1930-1950
Biographies about Dorothy West
- Dorothy West’s Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color by Prof. Cherene Sherrard-Johnson
- Literary Sisters: Dorothy West and her Circle, A Biography of the Harlem Renaissance by Prof. Verner Mitchell and Prof. Cynthia Davis
Visit Dorothy West’s Home
- Dorothy West Home - Oak Bluffs, MA
- Papers of Dorothy West - Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
Dorothy West Quotes
“There is no life that does not contribute to history.”
“Identity is not inherent. It is shaped by circumstance and sensitivity and resistance to self-pity.”