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Ann Petry (Ann Lane Petry) Biography

(1908–1997), (Ann Lane Petry), The Street, In Darkness and Confusion, The Country Place, The Narrows

black street harlem children

African-American novelist, short-story writer, journalist, and children's author, born in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. She studied pharmacy at the state university and worked in her parents' drugstore until marriage took her to Harlem in 1938. As a roving reporter for two Harlem newspapers, she was confronted by the endemic deprivation and despair of the black ghetto, and her response to what Sterling Brown called ‘the tribulations of the slum-shocked’ informs the bleak social vista of The Street (1946) and the novella In Darkness and Confusion (1947). Although Petry's stress on the determining pressures of race and poverty has much in common with the naturalism of Richard Wright, The Street makes a distinctive contribution to black protest fiction in the 1940s by focusing on the experience of a female protagonist. In The Country Place (1947), The Narrows (1953), and Miss Muriel and Other Stories (1971), Petry turns from urban nightmare to the more humdrum frustrations of small-town New England life. She also wrote books for children including Harriet Tubman (1955) and Tituba of Salem Village (1964).

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