111 Zora Neale Hurston Facts: Legacy, Accomplishments And More

Sridevi Tolety
Feb 21, 2023 By Sridevi Tolety
Originally Published on Dec 22, 2021
Edited by Sarah Nyamekye
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
the American literary scene was Zora Neale Hurston
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.2 Min

The pen is mightier than the sword.

A powerful essay or speech can influence more people than an act of violence ever could. So, revolutionary writers and their works from centuries ago are still celebrated because they helped bring change into this world.

The United States of America nation has witnessed many great history-changing authors and orators. Many of these writers were African Americans who wrote to fight racial discrimination against their people.

The 20th century witnessed many masterpieces by these authors. Some of the most prominent figures of the 20th-century literary scene are Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Maya Angelou, Alex Haley, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker. Down below, we are going to be educated about the free-spirited Zora Neale Hurston and her legacy.

If you have found our article educative, take a look at our other suggestions: Eli Whitney facts and Alex Haley facts.

Fun Facts About Zora Neale Hurston

If one leads the best possible life they could, with self-respect and continuous self-growth and development, they will become an inspiration to others around them. History has seen many such strong individuals whose lives have become an example to others.

One such extraordinary figure in the American literary scene was Zora Neale Hurston.

Zora published two books on folklore titled 'Mules and Men' and 'Tell My Horse' which are based on her field studies conducted on African-American folkways in Florida and Voodoo practices in Haiti, respectively. Let us know more about her and her writings.

Zora Neale Hurston was born on January 7, 1891, to Lucy Ann Hurston and John Hurston in the city of Notasulga in Alabama state. She was the fifth among her parents' eight children.

Her father, John Hurston, was a tenant farmer and Baptist minister. In 1894, Zora's father moved their family to Eatonville, the very first American all-black town established in 1887, and settled there.

Zora's father became one of the first mayors of Eatonville in 1897, while her mother worked as the local school teacher.

Though Zora and her father's ideals clashed over her rambunctious spirit, her mother always encouraged all her little ones to aim high and reach for them. Zora had a happy childhood in the thriving black community of Eatonville, which was 'home' to her.

But, her happy days came to an abrupt end in 1904 after Zora's mother's death. Her father married again and had neither love nor money to spare for his children, so at the age of 13, Zora began working menial jobs to survive.

Zora Hurston supported herself after that and managed to pursue education, reach great heights, and make a name for herself. Zora married three times in her life; unfortunately, none of her marriages lasted a long while.

Zora first married a jazz musician named Herbert Sheen in 1927 and divorced him later in 1931. Her second marriage was to Albert Price that lasted between 1939-43. Zora Neale Hurston last married James Howell Pitts in 1944, and sadly, their marriage lasted less than a year.

Zora had many friends in the literary field like Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and many others. Zora Hurston had an exuberant personality that charmed people all around her.

She had an incredibly infectious sense of humor, a fiery intellect, and an amazing ability to walk into people's hearts, making her the life of any party. Along with her unforgettable personality, her remarkable achievements in the fields of literature and folklore made her an unforgettable figure in history.

Facts About Zora Neale Hurston's Writings

Zora Hurston is considered one of the most significant African-American woman authors of the early decades of the 20th century. She inspired and influenced many generations of writers with her work like Ralph Ellison. Zora Hurston's literary contributions include four novels, an autobiography, two books on folklore, and more than 50 poems, essays, plays, articles, and short stories.

Zora Hurston published 'John Redding Goes to Sea' her first story, in the campus literary club called 'The Stylus' at Howard University. In the 1920s, Zora Hurston wrote and published many essays, short stories, and plays in various magazines.

In 1926, Zora, along with a few other black writers, including Wallace Thurman and Langston Hughes, produced a magazine known as 'Fire!!' featuring many artists and writers of the Harlem Renaissance.

Zora Hurston's novels titled 'Jonah's Gourd Vine', 'Their Eyes Were Watching God', and 'Moses', 'Man of the Mountains', were published in the five-year period between 1934-39.

The novel Their Eyes Were Watching God tells the story of a black woman named Janie Crawford. This book became Zora Hurston's most recognized work to date.

Zora joined hands with Langston Hughes and created a play called Mule Bone. Zora Neale Hurston published her autobiography 'Dust Tracks on a Road' in 1942 and her last novel 'Seraph on the Suwanee' in 1948.

Though most of her work was well-received and critically acclaimed, she didn't receive the financial revenue she deserved and spent the latter part of her life in poverty and debt.

In 1985, Zora and works were rediscovered when her book 'Spunk: Selected Stories', a collection of her short stories, was published posthumously. Other Posthumous publications included 'Every Tongue Got to Confess', a collection of folktales, and, 'Barracoon' a non-fiction story about the last know survivor of the Atlantic slave trade. The Barracoon was published in 2018.

Facts About Zora Neale Hurston's Legacy

America is amongst the most progressive nations of the present times, both economically and socially. This country is accepting of all its citizens, irrespective of their race, ethnicity, gender, and social status.

Well, this amazing feat was not achieved overnight. It took several struggles, movements, and fights led by great minds that sought freedom and respect to achieve the present status. One such great mind was Zora Neale Hurston.

Zora Neale Hurston was an African-American author, anthropologist, filmmaker, and folklorist. Through her works, Hurston portrayed the racial struggles of black people in southern regions of America.

While many writers explored these issues during those times, what made Zora and her works unique was her portrayal of the struggles and oppression black women faced within their own communities.

While Zora Hurston wrote about the struggles and discriminations the African-Americans faced, she was also interested in African-American cultures, folklores, arts, and art forms. She studied various African-American cultures and Voodoo practices in the South of America and also in the Caribbean Islands of Haiti and Jamaica.

Zora Neale Hurston was also a prominent figure of the Harlem Renaissance, which was a movement centered in the Harlem region of New York City. This movement centered around the revival of African American art, literature, music, dance, theatre, fashion, and politics.

Zora was an important figure in history because she impacted and influenced society, especially black women, by setting an example with her accomplishments, black pride, and exuberant and strong personality.

Inspired by Zora's accomplishments in the literary field, the art and theatre world, and also her extensive education, many young black writers like Alice Walker followed her path, which was an accomplishment in itself.

This was the great legacy Zora Neale Hurston left behind.

Zora Neale Hurston facts: She was a prominent figure during the Harlem Renaissance.

Facts About Zora Neale Hurston's Education

A good education helps a person lead a better life. Zora Neale Hurston was well aware of this fact. Hence she pursued an extensive education all through her life.

When Zora was 26 years old, she lied about her age as 16 to get into the high school program of Morgan State University. Morgan State University was a black college in the city of Baltimore in Maryland.

After graduating high school, Hurston enrolled at Howard University. Hurston earned her associate degree from Howard University, where she spent an eventful college life founding a historically black sorority, co-founding the student newspaper, and participating in the literary club.

The student newspaper was named The Hilltop. After Howard, Zora Hurston received a scholarship to attend Barnard College, a women's college under Columbia University.

Hurston studied BA in anthropology at Barnard college under anthropologist Franz Boas. After graduating from Barnard, Zora enrolled as a graduate student at Columbia University to study anthropology for two more years.

Zora studied various African-American cultures and performed field works under Charlotte Osgood Mason who was a philanthropist and under the academic guidance of Franz Boas. Zora Hurston worked as an amanuensis to another novelist Fannie Hurst too. Zora Hurston's pursuit of knowledge and her desire to learn and grow is truly inspirational.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 111 Zora Neale Hurston facts: legacy, accomplishments and more, then why not take a look at William Faulkner facts, or William Penn facts. 

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Written by Sridevi Tolety

Bachelor of Science specializing in Botany, Master of Science specializing in Clinical Research and Regulatory Affairs

Sridevi Tolety picture

Sridevi ToletyBachelor of Science specializing in Botany, Master of Science specializing in Clinical Research and Regulatory Affairs

With a Master's degree in clinical research from Manipal University and a PG Diploma in journalism from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Sridevi has cultivated her passion for writing across various domains. She has authored a wide range of articles, blogs, travelogues, creative content, and short stories that have been published in leading magazines, newspapers, and websites. Sridevi is fluent in four languages and enjoys spending her spare time with loved ones. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, cooking, painting, and listening to music.

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Fact-checked by Gowri Rao

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Gowri Rao picture

Gowri RaoBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

With a bachelor's degree in Economics from Krea University, Gowri is a highly skilled data analyst and an expert in regression and causation modeling. Her interests in economic trends, finance, and investment research complement her professional expertise. In addition to her professional pursuits, Gowri enjoys swimming, running, and playing the drums, and she is also a talented tutor.

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