"Building on the pioneering work of Ann Allen Shockley, Claudia Tate, and Lois Brown and engaging fully with recent criticism, Wallinger has written a long-overdue and well-organized biography of Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins, the most prolific African American woman writer and the most influential black literary editor of the first decade of the twentieth century. The book provides the first comprehensive and contextualized reading of Hopkins’s career as a performer, playwright, journalist, editor, biographer, novelist, short story writer, and public speaker."
—John Gruesser, author of Confluences: Postcolonialism, African American Literary Studies, and the Black Atlantic
Drawing on recently discovered letters, Wallinger sheds new light on the relationship between Hopkins and Booker T. Washington, particularly the acrimony surrounding Hopkins’s departure from the Colored American Magazine. She discusses Hopkins’s pseudonymous writings in addition to those written under the known alias Sarah A. Allen. Wallinger interprets Hopkins’s play Peculiar Sam, her now famous novels (Contending Forces, Hagar’s Daughter, Winona, and Of One Blood), and the short stories, which have so far received little critical attention. This study also contains the little-known but important text A Primer of Facts. Republished here for the first time, it establishes Hopkins as an early advocate of black nationalism and one of the few women writers who joined this discourse.
Hopkins, writes Wallinger, “was on the scene when race consciousness was being defined.” This important new study reveals her role at the center of crucial debates about the cultural politics of magazine editing, radical activism, and the early feminist movement.
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