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Ellen Douglas, pseudonym of Josephine Haxton Biography

(1921– ), pseudonym of Josephine Haxton, A Family's Affairs, Black Cloud, White Cloud

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Hilda Doolittle (H. D.) Biography to Dutch

American novelist, born in Mississippi, where she has spent most of her life. Her constant themes are the position of women and the relationship between black and white, using her considerable powers of observation of life in Mississippi to come to more universal conclusions. Her first novel, A Family's Affairs (1962), drawing on her own family, was followed by a volume of related novellas and stories, Black Cloud, White Cloud (1963). Subsequent books include Apostles of Light (1973) and Where the Dreams Cross (1986). The Rock Cried Out (1979) presents the South in the context of the Civil Rights period and relates it to the wider USA in the throes of the Vietnam War. A Lifetime Burning (1982) is a novel in the form of a journal, which shows the break-up of the narrator's marriage. The culmination of Douglas's honest and scrutinizing fiction must be Can't Quit You, Baby (1988), a novel about two women, one white, prosperous, protected (and also self-protecting), the other her black servant, a far more turbulent and emotionally honest person. Douglas has a deep interest in fairy-tale, and has also retold classic tales to illustrations by the visionary Mississippi artist Walter Anderson in The Magic Carpet and Other Tales (1987).

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