Zora Chronology

The Life of 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.
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.
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.
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.
Publishes The First One, a play, in Charles S. Johnson’s Ebony 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Publishes “Now Take Noses” in Cordially Yours.
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.
June 1944
Publishes “My Most Humiliating Jim Crow Experience” in the Negro Digest.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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