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Pauline Hopkins Biography

(1859–1930), Colored American Magazine

African-American novelist, short-story writer, and journalist, born in Portland, Maine, educated at the prestigious Girls' High School in Boston. In 1900 Hopkins co-founded the first US black press literary magazine, Colored American Magazine, which serialized three of her novels (Hagar's Daughter: A Story of Southern Caste Prejudice; Winona: A Tale of Negro Life in the South and Southwest; and Of One Blood: Or, the Hidden Self); her stories and articles also appeared in Colored American Magazine and in Voice of the Negro. Her first novel, Contending Forces: A Romance Illustrative of Negro Life North and South (1900), which chronicles the enslaved lives of several generations of an African-American family, links antebellum violence against slaves to post-Reconstruction practices of lynching, rape, and segregation. The Schomburg Library's 1988 republication of the novel and The Magazine Novels of Pauline Hopkins has ignited an often contradictory US critical response to Hopkins's work: some argue that Hopkins's impassioned fictional preoccupation with racial justice none the less betrays strongly assimilationist or élitist impulses, while recent historicist criticism details a more theoretically complex engagement between Hopkins's texts and both contemporaneous literary conventions and such pop-culture discourses as Jamesian psychology.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Honest Ulsterman to Douglas Hyde Biography