Zora Neale Hurston: January 7, 1891 (Nostasulga, Alabama) January 28, 1960 (Fort Pierce, Florida)
Zora Neale Hurston was a novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist whose fictional and factual accounts of black heritage are unparalleled. Her autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road, begins with the words: I have memories within that came out of the materials that went to make me. Time and place have had their say. Zoras place was the frontier wilderness of Florida. She grew up in Eatonville, the only incorporated all-black town in America. Playing in the pine barrens and oak scrub, she unconsciously absorbed impressions about the wild flora and fauna. The memory of these sights, smells, and sounds inspired her curiosity and creativity.
Zora explored and understood all parts of her home state of Florida. She traveled its every mile gathering folktales. Mules and Men, a collection of Hurstons folklore from Florida, is rich in the magic of the natural world. The lyrical descriptions of settings, the realistic dialogue, and the haunting simplicity of symbols demonstrate her knowledge of real Florida.