About Zora Neale Hurston

  • January 7, 1891
    Born in Notasulga, Alabama, the fifth of eight children, to John Hurston, a carpenter and Baptist preacher, and Lucy Potts Hurston, a former schoolteacher.
  • September 1917 - June 1918
    Attends Morgan Academy in Baltimore, completing the high school requirements.
  • Summer 1918
    Works as a waitress in a nightclub and a manicurist in a black-owned barbershop that only serves whites.
  • 1918 - 1919
    Attends Howard Prep School, Washington, D.C.
  • 1919 - 1924
    Attends Howard University; receives an associate degree in 1920.
  • 1921
    Publishes her first story, “John Redding Goes to Sea,” in Stylus, the campus literary society’s magazine.
  • December 1924
    Publishes “Drenched in Light,” a short story, in Opportunity.
  • 1925
    Submits a story, “Spunk,” and a play, Color Struck, to Opportunity’s literary contest. Both win second-place award; publishes “Spunk” in the June number.
  • 1925 - 1927
    Attends Barnard College, studying anthropology with Franz Boas.
  • 1926
    Begins field work for Boas in Harlem.
  • January 1926
    Publishes “John Redding Goes to Sea” in Opportunity.
  • Summer 1926
    Organizes Fire! With Langston Hughes and Wallace Thurman; they publish only one issue, in November 1926. The issue includes Hurston’s “Sweat.”
  • August 1926
    Publishes “Muttsy” in Opportunity.
  • September 1926
    Publishes “Possum or Pig” in the Forum.
  • September - November 1926
    Publishes “The Eatonville Anthology” in the Messenger.
  • 1927
    Publishes The First One, a play, in Charles S. Johnson’s E_bony and Topaz_.
  • February 1927
    Goes to Florida to collect folklore.
  • May 19,1927
    Marries Herbert Sheen.
  • September 1927
    First visits Mrs. Rufus Osgood Mason, seeking patronage.
  • October 1927
    Publishes an account of the black settlement at St. Augustine, Florida, in the Journal of Negro History; also in this issue: “Cudjo’s Own Story of the Last African Slaver.”
  • December 1927
    Signs a contract with Mason, enabling her to return to the South to collect folklore.
  • 1928
    Satirized as “Sweetie Mae Carr” in Wallace Thurman’s novel about the Harlem Renaissance Infants of the Spring; receives a bachelor of arts degree from Barnard.
  • January 1928
    Relations with Sheen break off.
  • May 1928
    Publishes “How It Feels to be Colored Me” in The World Tomorrow.
  • 1930 - 1932
    Organizes the field notes that become Mules and Men.
  • May - June 1930
    Works on the play Mule Bone with Langston Hughes.
  • 1931
    Publishes “Hoodoo in America” in the Journal of American Folklore.
  • February 1931
    Breaks with Langston Hughes over the authorship of Mule Bone.
  • July 7,1931
    Divorces Sheen.
  • September 1931
    Writes for a theatrical revue called Fast and Furious.
  • January 1932
    Writes and stages a theatrical revue called The Great Day, first performed on January 10 on Broadway at the John Golden Theatre; works with the creative literature department of Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, to produce a concert program of Negro music.
  • 1933
    Writes “The Fiery Chariot.”
  • January 1933
    Stages From Sun to Sun (a version of Great Day) at Rollins College.
  • August 1933
    Publishes “The Gilded Six-Bits” in Story.
  • 1934
    Publishes six essays in Nancy Cunard’s anthology, Negro.
  • January 1934
    Goes to Bethune-Cookman College to establish a school of dramatic arts “based on pure Negro expression.”
  • May 1934
    Publishes Jonah’s Gourd Vine, originally titled Big Nigger; it is a Book-of-the-Month Club selection.
  • September 1934
    Publishes “The Fire and the Cloud” in the Challenge.
  • November 1934
    Singing Steel (a version of Great Day) performed in Chicago.
  • January 1935
    Begins to study for a Ph.D in anthropology at Columbia University on a fellowship from the Rosenwald Foundation.
  • August 1935
    Joins the WPA Federal Theater Project as a “dramatic coach.”
  • October 1935
    Mules and Men published.
  • March 1936
    Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to study West Indian obeah practices.
  • April - September 1936
    In Jamaica.
  • September - March 1937
    In Haiti; writes Their Eyes Were Watching God in seven weeks.
  • May 1937
    Returns to Haiti on a renewed Guggenheim.
  • September 1937
    Returns to the United States; Their Eyes Were Watching God published, September 18.
  • February - March 1938
    Writes Tell My Horse; it is published the same year.
  • April 1939
    Joins the Federal Writers Project in Florida to work on The Florida Negro.
  • 1939
    Publishes “Now Take Noses” in Cordially Yours.
  • 1939
    Marries Albert Price.
  • June 1939
    Receives an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Morgan State college.
  • Summer 1939
    Hired at a drama instructor by North Carolina College for Negroes at Durham; meets Paul Green, professor of drama, at the University of North Carolina.
  • November 1939
    Moses, Man of the Mountain published.
  • February 1940
    Files for divorce from Price, though the two are reconciled briefly.
  • Summer 1940
    Makes a folklore-collecting trip to South Carolina.
  • Spring - July 1941
    Writes Dust Tracks on a Road.
  • July 1941
    Publishes “Cock Robin, Beale Street” in the Southern Literary Messenger.
  • October 1941-January 1942
    Works as a story consultant at Paramount Pictures.
  • July 1942
    Publishes “Story in Harlem Slang” in the American Mercury.
  • September 5, 1942
    Publishes a profile of Lawrence Silas in the Saturday Evening Post.
  • November 1942
    Dust Tracks on a Road published.
  • February 1943
    Awarded the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Race Relations for Dust Tracks; on the cover of the Saturday Review.
  • March 1943
    Receives Howard University’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
  • May 1943
    Publishes “The ‘Pet Negro’ Syndrome” in the American Mercury.
  • November 1943
    Divorce from Price granted.
  • 1944
    Marries James Howell Pitts.
  • June 1944
    Publishes “My Most Humiliating Jim Crow Experience” in the Negro Digest.
  • 1945
    Writes Mrs. Doctor; it is rejected by Lippincott.
  • March 1945
    Publishes “The Rise of the Begging Joints” in the American Mercury.
  • December 1945
    Publishes “Crazy for This Democracy” in the Negro Digest.
  • 1947
    Publishes a review of Robert Tallant’s Voodoo in New Orleans in the Journal of American Folklore.
  • May 1947
    Goes to British Honduras to research black communities in Central America; writes Seraph on the Suwanee; stays in Honduras until March 1948.
  • October 1948
    Seraph on the Suwanee published.
  • March 1950
    Publishes “Conscience of the Court” in the Saturday Evening Post, while working as a maid in Rivo Island, Florida.
  • April 1950
    Publishes “What White Publishers Won’t Print” in the Saturday Evening Post.
  • November 1950
    Publishes “I Saw Negro Votes Peddled” in the American Legion magazine.
  • Winter 1950 - 1951
    Moves to Belle Glade, Florida.
  • June 1951
    Publishes “Why the Negro Won’t Buy Communism” in the American Legion magazine.
  • December 8, 1951
    Publishes “A Negro Voter Sizes up Taft” in the Saturday Evening Post.
  • 1952
    Hired by the Pittsburgh Courier to cover the Ruby McCollum case.
  • May 1956
    Receives an award for “education and human relations” at Bethune-Cookman College.
  • June 1956
    Works as a librarian at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida.
  • 1957 - 1959
    Writes a column on “Hoodoo and Black Magic” for the Fort Pierce Chronicle.
  • 1958
    Works as a substitute teacher at Lincoln Park Academy, Fort Pierce.
  • Early 1959
    Suffers a stroke.
  • October 1959
    Forced to enter the St. Lucie County Welfare Home.
  • January 28, 1960
    Dies in the St. Lucie County Welfare Home of “hypertensive heart disease”; buried in an unmarked grave in the Garden of Heavenly Rest, Fort Pierce.
  • August 1973
    Alice Walker discovers and marks Hurston’s grave.
  • March 1975
    Walker publishes “In Search of Zora Neale Hurston,” in Ms., launching a Hurston revival.