Zora Neale Hurston Anthropologist and Author

Posted by Deco London on

Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston was an anthropologist, novelist and folklorist, who wrote about the racial struggles in the American south.  Known as the queen of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s, with a career that spanned more than 30 years, Zora published four novels, two books of folklore, an autobiography, numerous short stories, several essays, articles and plays.

Zora pictured in Eatonville, Florida

Born on Januray 7, 1891, in Notasulga, Alabama, Zora grew up in Eatonville, Florida, the first self-governing all-black town in the USA.  She described it as “a city of five lakes, three croquet courts, three hundred brown skins, three hundred good swimmers, plenty guavas, two schools, and no jailhouse.” 
Following the death of her mother in 1904, Zora dropped out of school.  After what she called “years of wandering”, she returned to school aged 26, pretending to be a 16 year old to qualify for free education.  After her graduation, Zora went to study at Howard University in Washington, receiving an associate degree in 1920.  In 1921, she published her first story, 'John Redding Goes to Sea', in the University literary society magazine.  

Zora with Langston Hughes 1920s

Between 1925 and 1927, Zora studied anthropology at Barnard College with Franz Boas, who she went on to work for in Harlem, New York. It was here in Harlem she met poet Langston Hughes and novelist Wallace Thurman, who were central figures in the 1920s Harlem Renaissance; the flowering of black intellectual, literary, and artistic life. 


By, 1935, Zora was working as an anthropologist, collecting black southern folktales through her work.  During this time, she published several short stories, articles and a novel ‘Jonah’s Gourd Vine’ plus a collection of black Southern folklore stories ‘Mules and Men’

In 1937, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship to study voodoo culture in Jamaica and Haiti, where she wrote her masterpiece ‘Their Eyes were Watching God’, a feminist novel about a black woman coming to consciousness. She went on to write ‘Moses, Man of the Mountain’ in 1939 and her autobiography ‘Dust Tracks on a Road’ in 1942, which finally gave her the acclaim that had long eluded her.  That year, she was profiled in ‘Who’s Who in America’ and was featured on the cover of the Saturday Review.  

Zora continued her anthropology work and wrote numerous short stories throughout the 1940s and 1950s.  In 1959, she suffered a stroke and died in 1960, penniless, with her work in relative obscurity.  She was buried in an unmarked grave in the ‘Garden of Heavenly Rest’ in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Zora Neale Hurston, photographed by the Evening Post circa 1956

In 1973, Alice Walker, writer of ‘The Color Purple’ came to Fort Pierce to find out more about Zora, whose writings had inspired her.  After finding the unmarked grave, she installed a headstone with the words ‘A Genius of the South’ carved upon it.  

'Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick' is a new collection of Zora's Harlem Renaissance-era short stories, published by Harper Collins.

1920s 1930s Alabama Alice Walker anthropologist art deco Barnard College black southern folklore Dust Tracks on the Road Eatonville Florida folklorist Fort Pierce Florida Franz Boas Harlem Harlem Renaissance history Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick jazz age Jonah's Gourd Vine Langston Hughes Man of the Mountain Moses Mules and Men social history Their eyes were watching God vintage style Wallace Thurman

← Older Post Newer Post →

Deco Diaries

1910s 1920s 1920s fashion 1920s toys 1930s 1930s lidos 43 club aaron douglas abstract abstraction actress Ada Coleman Adelaide Hall Adele Astaire Adeline Kent African American Afrocentric Agatha Christie Alabama Albert Staehle Alice Walker All Passion Spent Allied Amédée Ozenfant american art deco American Bar Anatomy of a Murder Andre Edouard Marty Andree Spinelly Annette Kellerman anthropologist Arabia Aram Arpége art art deco art deco architecture artists ashtray ashtray with cigarette holder aspirin necklace Asscher cut Atlas Sculpture avant-garde B301 sling-back armchair B306 chaise longue ballroom Bamboo Inn bandleader Bar Americain Barbara Hepworth Barnard College bass museum Bathtub Gin Battersea Power Station bauhaus Bauhaus Design School Bauhaus movement BBC Belle Epoque Ben Nicholson Bentley Wood Sussex Berlin Bertold Loffler beverly nichol Bibendum Chair Bill Tilden Billie Holliday Bizarre black identity black southern folklore Black Wall Street Blossom Umbrella Bombay boutique Brabourne Cricket Stadium Brandt Table Clock bright young things Brilliant Cut British Empire british summer Broadway brocade brooklands brutalist Brutalist Style Butlins Cab Calloway cabaret Cabaret Fledermaus Cabaret Voltaire cadillac cafe cafe de paris Cafe Society California school of Art cantilevered balconies capes card Carl Otto Casino de Paris Caveau-Dancing Cavendish cecil beaton celebrity Centenary chad valley Charles Gesmar Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris Chatsworth chhajja christmas Christopher Isherwood Christopher Tunnard Chrysler Building Cine-Bal cinema Cité du Réfuge Cité radieuse clare hollingworth Clarice Cliff Cocktails coco chanel cole porter collage collar Comoedia Illustre Connie's Inn Construction géométrique costume costumes Cotton Club Coty couture couturier crash crepe Cricket Club of India CCI Cubist Cubist Movement cuff cultural revolution Dada dance dance halls dancer David Suchet De Stjil dean street Death on the Nile deco london Design designs Detroit Detroit Institute of Arts diamond diarist Diego Rivera Diseuse Mariya Delvard dismal desmond Dom-Ino house Donnell Garden dora marr Dragon Chair drama Dresden Academy of Fine Art dry vermouth Duke Ellington Dust Tracks on the Road dystopian E-1027 modernist villa Eatonville Edric Connor edward Edward Burra Edwardians Egypt Ella Fitzgerald Elmer Simms Campbell Elsa Schiaparelli empire line entertainment ernest Erte evelyn dove evening dress Everyday Strange Exclusive Club exercise Factories Fantasio fashion fashion designer fine art Fledermaus Florida Folies Bergere folklorist Fort Pierce Florida Foyer bar Franz Boas Fred and Adele Fred and Ginger Fred Astaire French Cut Frequency hopping Frieda Kahlo Fritz Lang functionalism furniture furs futurism Gabriel Guevrekian garden design gardener gardens Gargoyle club geometric geometric shapes Geometric Sunburst gerrard street Gilda Gray Gin Ginger Rogers Goodbye to Berlin Google Doodle gossip GPS Bluetooth great depression Greenwood Avenue Guernica Gunta Stolzl harem pants Harlem Harlem Renaissance Harpers Bazaar Harry CRaddock Harvard Graduate School of Design he Museum of Modern Art Heal's Hedy Lamarr Hellen Wills Moody Henry Moore Hercule Poirot Heritage history Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick Hollywood Hollywood Club homewares Honolulu hornby trains Howard Carter Howard Hughes human body Hutch Ilusion Set interior inventor irving fisher Irving Mills Isokon (Lawn Road) Flats J Greenup Jack and Molly Pritchard Jane Marnac Jardin de la villa Noailles Jazz jazz age Jazz scene Jean Arp Jean Patou Jeanne Bourgeois Jeanne Lanvin Jeanne Mammen jersey jitterbug Joan Miró John Paston John Rhodes Cobb Jonah's Gourd Vine Josef Hoffmann Josef von Diveky journalist Joy Jubilee Pool Jungle Alley Kathleen Kitty McKane Godfrey keep fit Kentucky Club kidney shaped swimming pool Kit Kat Club L'aubette La Baionette La Bar sous le toit La Mode La Vie Parisienne laboratory land speed record Langston Hughes LC2 Grand Confort Le Corbusier Le Rire Lee Lawrie Lee LawrieWisom Lenin Lennox Lounge Leonora Carrington Les Arts Leslie Hutchinson Leslie Ragan Liberty Cinema LNER Lobster Dress london Louis Armstrong louise Brooks Luchita Hurtado Ludwig Mies van de Rohe luxury L’Arciduc L’Espirit Nouveau Pavillion Maison Gerda Maison La Roche Man of the Mountain Man Ray Marcel Brauer Margery Brews Maria Robot Marianne Brandt Marion Forde Marquis Sommi Marquise matisse Maurice Chevalier Max Ernst metalwork Mexican Mexican Revolution Mexico MGM miami Mien Rhys Millicent Garett Fawcett Miss Mascara Mistinguett Mitty et Tillo modernism Modernist Architecture modernist artist MOMA Monstre sur la plage Moritz Jung Moses motor racing Mr Straw Mrs Pattison Mules and Men Mumbai Munition Factories Mural Movement murals Music Halls musician musicians My Portrait napier-railton National Trust natural world Neue Sachlichkeit New Objectivity New York New York Art Fair New York City Newport Jazz Festival Night Club Map of Harlem Norma Shearer norman rockwell Nottingham novelist Nuage bookcase observer office ware Old European orchestra Oscars Otto Dix Otto Preminger outerwear Oval Maiden Pablo Picasso palace Pan American Unity Paris parlophone parties Paul Newman paul poiret Peggy Guggenheim Penzance perfume Philtower Building photography piano Piet Mondrian Pirogue Day Bed Playhouse Theatre plymouth hotel poet poetry Pontypridd Lido Portrait of a Marriage Post-impressionist posters Power Station A Power Station B Prohibition Propaganda public housing raglan sleeve ragtime railton special RCA Building ready-to-wear refugees Regal Cinema Rene Lacoste rhapsody robes de style Rockefeller Centre Rockerfeller Centre Romain de Tirtoff Rue de Lota apartment Ruppel Salon de Thé Saltdean Lido santa claus Savoy Cocktail book Scandals Schiaparelli sci-fi scientist sculpture seaside secure wi-fi Septimus Scott Serenade in Sepia She Representes Simply Heavenly singer Sir Giles Gilbert Scott Sissingham Castle slavery Small's Paradise snakes and ladders social history socialites soho Sonoma California Sophia Duleep Singh Sophie Taeuber-Arp soundtrack south beach speakeasies sport sporting fashion sportswear SS Sudan Steam Ship stock exchange strasbourg Strasbourgmulti-media strong women Sudan summer Sunday Vase Sunrise Surpentine Gallery surrealism surrealist surrealist movement swimsuit symbolism Symphony in black Tabac Blond Taeuber-Arp Tamara de lempicka Tate Modern Teapot technology telegraph tennis textiles The Coterie The Crocodile The Frankli The Hanky Panky The Isokon building The Isokon Gallery The Savoy Hotel The White Lady The years lie in wait for you Their eyes were watching God Theo Van Doesburg Thomas Church Thomas Cook thomas nash Tom Purvis Tooting Bec Lido Torpedos Transitional Cut travel treadmill trompe l’œil bow sweater Tulsa Tulsa Race Massacre turban Two Women UNESCO Unite d’Habitation urban design US military V&A valentine valentine's day Vaudeville velvet Venezuelan Vers une architecture vertical-horizontal compositions Villa Savoye vintage style Virginia Vita Vogue Voyages Du Monde wall street Wallace Thurman Wallis Simpson Walter Gropius war correspondent War Effort Washington DC Wassily and Cesca chairs Wassily Chair Wassily Kandinsky Weimar Republic Weimer Republic Weißensee Academy of Art Wells Coates whim Wiener Werkståtte Wilhelm Wagenfeld William J Johnson William Morris Williams Dreamland Theatre Wimbledon women designer Women Land Army Women Land Corps women's suffrage woo wool coats wraps writers WWI WWII Zora Neale Hurston