Literary Sisters: Dorothy West and Her Circle, A Biography of the Harlem Renaissance

Overview

Harlem Renaissance writer Dorothy West led a charmed life in many respects. Born into a distinguished Boston family, she appeared in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, then lived in the Soviet Union with a group that included Langston Hughes, to whom she proposed marriage. She later became friends with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who encouraged her to finish her second novel, The Wedding, which became the octogenarian author’s first bestseller.

Literary Sisters reveals a different side ...

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New Brunswick, NJ 2011 Hard cover New. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 200 p. Contains: Illustrations.

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Literary Sisters: Dorothy West and Her Circle, A Biography of the Harlem Renaissance

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Overview

Harlem Renaissance writer Dorothy West led a charmed life in many respects. Born into a distinguished Boston family, she appeared in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, then lived in the Soviet Union with a group that included Langston Hughes, to whom she proposed marriage. She later became friends with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who encouraged her to finish her second novel, The Wedding, which became the octogenarian author’s first bestseller.

Literary Sisters reveals a different side of West’s personal and professional lives—her struggles for recognition outside of the traditional literary establishment, and her collaborations with talented African American women writers, artists, and performers who faced these same problems. West and her “literary sisters”—women like Zora Neale Hurston and West’s cousin, poet Helene Johnson—created an emotional support network that also aided in promoting, publishing, and performing their respective works. Integrating rare photos, letters, and archival materials from West’s life, Literary Sisters is not only a groundbreaking biography of an increasingly important author but also a vivid portrait of a pivotal moment for African American women in the arts.

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Editorial Reviews

University of Virginia

"Simply put, this is a deliciously engaging book. The authors weave a rich and well-paced narrative of a network of "literary sisters," determined to write despite only dribbling support from the literary establishment. But more than that, the book broadens and deepens our knowledge of the Harlem Renaissance, while correcting so many misconceptions surrounding its fabled artists."

— Deborah E. McDowell

University of Virginia - Deborah E. McDowell

"Simply put, this is a deliciously engaging book. The authors weave a rich and well-paced narrative of a network of 'literary sisters,' determined to write despite only dribbling support from the literary establishment. But more than that, the book broadens and deepens our knowledge of the Harlem Renaissance, while correcting so many misconceptions surrounding its fabled artists."
University of Virginia

"Simply put, this is a deliciously engaging book. The authors weave a rich and well-paced narrative of a network of 'literary sisters,' determined to write despite only dribbling support from the literary establishment. But more than that, the book broadens and deepens our knowledge of the Harlem Renaissance, while correcting so many misconceptions surrounding its fabled artists."
— Deborah E. McDowell

Choice

"With this biography, Mitchell and Davis complete a trilogy of studies of the novelist Dorothy West, poet Helene Johnson, and the women they wrote with, traveled with, performed with, and slept with during the Harlem Renaissance. Highly recommended."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813551456
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 10/31/2011
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

VERNER D. MITCHELL is an associate professor of English at the University of Memphis. He is the editor of This Waiting for Love: Helene Johnson, Poet of the Harlem Renaissance.

CYNTHIA DAVIS is a professor of English and chair of General Education (ACE) at Barry University. She is the author of Dynamic Communication for Engineers and (with Verner D. Mitchell) Dorothy West: Where the Wild Grape Grows and Western Echoes of the Harlem Renaissance: The Life and Writings of Anita Scott Coleman.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments

Prologue

1. "Nothing So Broadening as Travel": Porgy, 1929
2. The Benson Family Comes to Boston
3. Pauline Hopkins and African American Literature in New England
4. Boston Girlhoods, 1910-1925
5. The Youngest Members of the Harlem Renaissance, 1926-1931
6. The Russian Interlude, Literary Salons, and Challenge

Epilogue

Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

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