Zora and Langston: A Story of Friendship and Betrayal

Zora and Langston: A Story of Friendship and Betrayal

by Yuval Taylor


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A Finalist for the 2019 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Biography

Zora and Langston is the dramatic and moving story of one of the most influential friendships in literature.

They were best friends. They were collaborators, literary gadflies, and champions of the common people. They were the leading lights of the Harlem Renaissance. Zora Neale Hurston, the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Langston Hughes, the author of “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” and “Let America Be America Again,” first met in 1925, at a great gathering of black and white literati, and they fascinated each other. They traveled together in Hurston’s dilapidated car through the rural South collecting folklore, worked on the play Mule Bone, and wrote scores of loving letters. They even had the same patron: Charlotte Osgood Mason, a wealthy white woman who insisted on being called “Godmother.”

Paying them lavishly while trying to control their work, Mason may have been the spark for their bitter and passionate falling-out. Was the split inevitable when Hughes decided to be financially independent of his patron? Was Hurston jealous of the young woman employed as their typist? Or was the rupture over the authorship of Mule Bone? Yuval Taylor answers these questions while illuminating Hurston’s and Hughes’s lives, work, competitiveness, and ambition, uncovering little-known details.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393243918
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 03/26/2019
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 801,173
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Yuval Taylor is the coauthor of Darkest America: Black Minstrelsy from Slavery to Hip-Hop and Faking It: The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, the Antioch Review, the Oxford American, and other publications. He lives in Chicago.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Lovingly Yours 3

1 Spring 1925: Opportunity 7

2 1891-1924: I Laugh and Grow Strong 25

3 Summer 1926: The Niggerati 50

4 Spring 1927: Enter Godmother 83

5 Summer 1927: The Company of Good Things 98

6 Fall 1927: A Deep Well of the Spirit 127

7 Winter 1928-Winter 1930: This is Going to Be Big 135

8 Spring 1930: The Bone of Contention 157

9 Winter 1931: A Miasma of Untruth 190

10 1932-1960: The Aftermath 219

Conclusion: The Legacy 238

Acknowledgments 245

Notes 247

Readings 275

Credits 281

Index 283

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