Zora Neale Hurston (1891 – 1960) was a memoirist, novelist, and folklorist who was an active member of the Harlem Renaissance literary movement. She was the first black student to study at Barnard college, and later in her career received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her most influential works include Their Eyes Were Watching God, Tell My Horse, Mules and Men, and Moses, Man of the Mountain.
Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) is Hurston’s best known work. Always somewhat controversial, discussions and perceptions of the novel have evolved over the decades since it was first published. The story follows Janie Crawford as she matures from a voiceless teenager to a woman with greater control over her own destiny.
The book was largely forgotten by the time of Hurston’s death in 1960, but re-emerged as a classic of twentieth-century literature and a staple in women’s studies courses. Here’s a sampling of quotes from Their Eyes Were Watching God: Read More→
Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks is the only novel by this esteemed and much honored American poet. Published in 1951, its language is both spare and profound; it reads beautifully and poetically without seeming affected. It’s the story of a middle-class, mid-twentieth century black woman leading an ordinary, extraordinary life.
The story opens when Maud Martha is seven, observing the adults around her with wonder and bafflement. The story begins to grip as she enters adulthood, with its dating rituals, love, jealousy, marriage, motherhood, disappointment, loss, contentment and joy. It skims the surface of segregation and bias, and explores familial and neighborly bonds — all within a surprisingly short novel. Read More→
Louisa May Alcott (1832 – 1888) is best known as the author of Little Women and its sequels, including Jo’s Boys and Little Men, though the scope of her work goes far beyond these beloved books. She is also known for promoting women’s rights and campaigning for women’s suffrage. Here are quotes from Little Women that remind us why we keep returning to the classic novel, time and again:
“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” Read More→
Daphne du Maurier (1907 – 1989) was a British novelist, playwright, and short story writer. As the author of romantic suspense thrillers, she’s arguably best known for Rebecca (1938), though Jamaica Inn, My Cousin Rachel, and the short story “The Birds” (which inspired the terrifying 1963 film are close contenders. For Rebecca, du Maurier drew upon on her experience with her own husband, who couldn’t let go of his departed wife. Rebecca was an instant best-seller, and the basis of the classic 1940 film of the same title. Here are some standout quotes from Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: Read More→
Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014) was an African-American writer, poet, civil rights activist, memoirist, and much more. She’s best known for I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (1969), which was among a seven-part autobiographical series. She led a bold, inspiring, accomplished life, and was a true trailblazing woman to be remembered and honored. Here is a compilation of Maya Angelou quotes that we would all do well to live by: Read More→