Did you see who's featured on Google Doodle today? It's celebrated author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, whose birthday is today. Best known as the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God, Hurston was a brilliant folklorist and anthropologist. Her marriages and friendships were passionate and creative. She lived with and loved people who fueled her stunning works.
After a tumultuous childhood that included the death of her mother in 1904 and her father's quick remarriage to a woman just six years older than Hurston, she would set out on her own. Lying about her age (she was then 26), she entered the high school at Morgan State University, graduating in 1918. She would go on to receive an associate's degree from Howard University, and would continue her studies at Barnard. When she arrived in New York in 1925, the Harlem Renaissance was catching fire, and Hurston was quickly at the center of the literary whirlwind. Her friendship with the famed poet Langston Hughes was an important collaborative one. In 1927, Hurston married musician and former Howard classmate Herbert Sheen. Her friendship with Langston Hughes would crumble around 1931, a split that Hurston would always regret. That same year, her divorce from Herbert Sheen was finalized, a single woman once more.
In the years that followed, Hurston traveled extensively, researching different cultures for her anthropological work. After receiving a Guggenheim fellowship to study the cultures, folklore and sorcery of the West Indies, Hurston traveled to Jamaica, then on to Haiti, where she wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God in just seven weeks.
In 1939, after accepting a position at the North Carolina College for Negroes, Hurston married her lover Albert Price. Price was 25 years her junior, and the marriage lasted only a mere seven months. However, the divorce wasn't finalized until 1943.
Hurston died of hypertensive heart disease in 1960. She would lay in an unmarked grave until 1973, when novelist Alice Walker discovered her and had a grave marker placed in her honor.
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