Maya Angelou – Influenced by Black authors like Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois and Paul Lawrence Dunbar, her love of language developed at a young age. Her most famous work I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published in 1969 and became the first in seven autobiographies of Angelou’s life.
Zora Neale Hurston was an American folklorist, anthropologist, and author of four novels and over fifty short stories, plays and essays. Her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God was written during her fieldwork in Haiti with the Guggenheim Foundation, which provides grants to professionals in the creative arts.
The poet Phillis Wheatley (c. 1753–84) published her book Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral in 1773, three years before American independence. Wheatley was not only the first African American to publish a book, but the first to achieve an international reputation as a writer.
Who was the first African American to publish a novel?
On this date in 1859, the first novel by a Black person was published in the United States. “Our Nig; or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, In a Two-Story White House North, Showing that Slavery’s Shadow Falls Even There,” by Harriet E. Adams Wilson, was published in Boston.
- Maya Angelou gestures while speaking in a chair during an interview at her home in 1978.
- Zora Neale Hurston at a book fair in New York City, circa 1937.
- Chinua Achebe in 1988.
- Langston Hughes in 1954.
Great Works in African-American Literature
Great African American Authors: Program 4: 1938
Why I write Black Children’s Books: Meet African-American …